A Reading from the Gospel According to Matthew 15:21-28
Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.
Opening Prayer: Draw near to your servants, O Lord, and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness, that, for those who glory in you as their creator and guide, you may restore what you have created and keep safe what you have restored. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.
Encountering Christ: A story like this is an occasion for us to look at our own attitudes towards people of other races, ethnic groups and nationalities, those who are socially disadvantaged, or in anyway different. Does your parish community go out of its way to provide a welcome for the ‘outsider’? These are the very real questions for today.
This encounter also teaches us something about prayer: this unnamed woman has a pressing need; she shouts until Jesus listens. She stands her ground and won’t back off. But she also has great faith and is humble. So, ask yourself, how honest are my conversations with God? Do I say what I really think? Do I pray for others? Can I wrestle with the Lord and refuse to take no for an answer?
The experience of God’s silence can be hard to understand. But we must know that Jesus is gazing at us, loving us. And when he finds love and faith in our hearts, we are able to receive not only what we need but also all of the gifts he plans to give us. Silence is a language we must learn and practice. In our prayers we often find a personal experience in God’s silence, but we also know that the Lord is always present and listens, even in the dimness of hurting, denial, and isolation.
Jesus was not absent to this woman but was giving her a better gift, because silence can work to purify us of our earthly thoughts, selfishness, vanity, human trust, and pride. By silence, he tests and continues to strengthen us.
There are many ways to ‘hear’ words. They can be just sound, external meaning, like giving information or directions. The word of God is more like the word of a friend, spoken to our mind and to our heart. Like the words of a caring parent giving advice or directions out of love. The Word of God gives meaning to life and is spoken always in love. Prayer is giving time to hearing this word on the deepest levels of our heart.
Closing Prayer: Loving God may everything we do begin with your inspiration and continue with your help so that all of our prayers and works of faith be set in motion by you. Help us to remain in silent prayer until we feel the love or your divine presence.