I will be the God of all the clans of Israel – it is the Lord who speaks – they shall be my people.
The Lord says this:
They have found pardon in the wilderness,
those who have survived the sword.
Israel is marching to his rest.
The Lord has appeared to him from afar:
I have loved you with an everlasting love,
so I am constant in my affection for you.
I build you once more; you shall be rebuilt,
virgin of Israel.
Adorned once more, and with your tambourines,
you will go out dancing gaily.
You will plant vineyards once more
on the mountains of Samaria
the planters have done their planting: they will gather the fruit.
Yes, a day will come when the watchmen shout
on the mountains of Ephraim,
‘Up! Let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God!’
For the Lord says this:
Shout with joy for Jacob!
Hail the chief of nations!
Proclaim! Praise! Shout:
‘The Lord has saved his people,
the remnant of Israel!’
Jesus left Gennesaret and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Then out came a Canaanite woman from that district and started shouting, ‘Sir, Son of David, take pity on me. My daughter is tormented by a devil.’ But he answered her not a word. And his disciples went and pleaded with him. ‘Give her what she wants,’ they said ‘because she is shouting after us.’ He said in reply, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ But the woman had come up and was kneeling at his feet. ‘Lord,’ she said ‘help me.’ He replied, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.’ She retorted, ‘Ah yes, sir; but even house-dogs can eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.’ And from that moment her daughter was well again.
Lord, Help Me.
Today’s gospel tells us about how a Canaanite woman came in desperation, pleading to Jesus to help her daughter. (Canaanites were the bitter biblical enemies of Israel whose paganism often led Israel into idolatry.) Jesus did not utter a word in response to this woman. Not only that, He told his disciples “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” It appears that Jesus is only willing to help those within his circle, his people. Surely with such a response from Jesus, we would have just turned away in anger, sorrow or pride.
Jesus continues to put obstacles in her way; testing her and putting her off. “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
Yes, Jesus’ mission is to Israel first but she believes Jesus will have more than enough power left over from what Israel does not need or want. She demonstrated perseverance and courage by refusing to take no for an answer to a desperate need. Jesus responded to her striking faith. Her faith was tested and passed the test.
Brothers and sisters, great faith brings far greater rewards. It takes courage and commitment. It takes a spirit that refuses to be deterred.
There are moments in my life when I pray for my own needs and also for others. But Jesus seems silent and distant. Sometimes I think He has walked away from me. Many times, I walk away from Him in frustration. But if Jesus would help the Canaanite woman who showed great faith, what more you and I?
We are His family! Can we be humble, persevere and show the faith that she had? When we recognize that we have nowhere else to turn, clinging to the only One who can answer us is an act of faith.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we come to you today with all our hurts and wounds. We offer our challenges to you today. We pray with expectant faith that you are near us and love us so much. Give us the grace to stay close to you. We pray for deeper faith, to be persevering in our prayers.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for this day. For our lives. For the challenges we face in our lives – a reminder that we have to stay close to you and gain strength from You. Only You Lord love us so much, never to give up on us. May we never give up on ourselves and on You.