Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Psalms 67: 3, 5-6, 8
Romans 11: 13-15, 29-32
Matthew 15: 2-18
All four readings in today’s liturgy speak of the love of a God who has no boundaries. The God of today’s readings embraces diversities: geographical, ethnical, and theological. The passage from Matthew of Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman highlights these considerations and concludes that great faith begets miracles.
Jesus has just left Gentile territory. He is followed by the Canaanite woman who pleads with Jesus to cure her daughter. The Jesus of Matthew emphasizes that primacy of Israel in the plan of salvation. The woman concedes the primacy of Israel but extends that to include others even if it be only the "crumbs from the table."
She begins her petition for her daughter with a prayer, kneels, and acknowledges Jesus as "Lord, Son of David." Jesus is impressed with her "great faith."
There are lessons to be learned from this woman. We must be persistent in hope and prayer. We must acknowledge Jesus as the "Lord, Son of David" who answers prayers. We must do everything in our power, she left her homeland, and trust in God’s generous bounty. We must not give up the struggle of prayer, and at times the struggle with God. We must identify the Canaanites in our life and find ways to include them. Who are the alienated, marginalized and ostracized I exclude from my embrace? From whom do I withhold the crumbs of my faith? my affections? my respect and friendship? Like Jesus, we can’t build walls and set boundaries. The greater the diversity of peoples we include in our circle the more like Jesus we become. The greater our faith the better the chances of miracles in our lives, and the more like the Canaanite woman we become.
Therefore, let us grow stronger in our faith and persist in prayer. Amen.
Fr. Kenneth O’Malley, C.P., Archivist at Catholic Theological Union at Chicago