Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

16-17 August 2014

Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič

Is 56:1,6-7; Rom 11:13-15, 29-32; Mt 15:21-28

The dialogue between Jesus and the Canaanite woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon is an interesting exchange between the two, that appears surprising at first reading, if not shocking, yet ends with a lesson for our spiritual lives.

The woman approached Jesus seeking his help for her daughter. Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon. How many mothers and fathers over the centuries and even today, lift up their prayers to the Lord for their children when they become seriously ill! Anyone with a heart would empathize with this and any mother in a similar situation. However, Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. This type of behaviour from Jesus seems opposing to all his other teachings and his actions. Yet, the emphasis of this dialogue and encounter is on the need for total trust and confidence that Jesus really does care for us, in spite of indications to the contrary. Jesus did in fact heal and help others who were not Jews when they approached him with faith. Remember the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant, and the Samaritan woman at the well who spoke with Jesus and discovered that he was the Messiah.

The Canaanite woman paid Jesus homage and persisted in her plea by saying Lord, help me. There is a lesson here for us to continue in prayer. Though we are called to persist in our prayers to God, we must also realize that this does not always result in getting what we have asked for. Prayer helps us to see more clearly what God wants for us and what really is the best for us. What we need most is not the carrying out of our own wishes but having the peace and security that can only come from our being in total harmony with God’s will for us, so that his will and our own personal will are identical. Our prayer should be to desire what God wants for us.

No person who has faith is a stranger to God, but rather, his mercy extends to all those who approach him with humble trust and confidence, the same way the Canaanite woman did by simply praying Lord, help me! May the Lord truly help us to discover what his will is for us and grant us the courage to accept it and fulfil it as best as we can in our lives, so that we can find healing for our souls and lasting peace.

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