“Jesus, I Trust in You!”
20th Sunday Ordinary Time
August 20, 2023
“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
From Matthew 11:21-28
Today’s gospel (Matthew 15:21-28) is one of the most mysterious gospels in the entire New Testament. Jesus heads up to the coast of Tyre and Sidon, a pagan land just to the north of Israel where he hopes to get a rest from the crowds seeking a healing, and to avoid Herod who wants to kill him. Yet, like so many things in our own lives, things do not seem to be going as Jesus and the disciples had planned!
A Canaanite woman approaches Jesus. She is an unwelcome interruption for the disciples. Jews were generally very suspicious of these people and looked down on them. But she wants a healing and won’t take no for an answer. Jesus appears not to hear and gives a rather curt reply when at last he speaks – yet this foreigner ultimately gets one of Jesus’ highest compliments – she has great faith and humility, she never gives up. The disciples insult her – she won’t give up! Jesus uses the word “dog” in conversing with her, but not as a put-down as the term was generally used. Instead, he uses the word to mean a kind of pet (and therefore not a put down). With that, the woman knew Jesus was sparring with her, not being derogatory nor ultimately ignoring her. Neither does he do so with us when we pray, no matter how it may seem at first.
The real lesson here is perseverance in prayer. Sometimes Jesus appears not to listen to us; sometimes we don’t like the answer we receive. Sometimes we simply don’t understand. Or we can’t hear him. No matter. Persevere in prayer. Keep at it. Never give up. What wins Jesus over is perseverance –- humility – and faith. These three qualities come up over and over in the gospels, because they matter so much to God. They are, in fact, the qualities of God.
Prayer is not always easy. It can be a real struggle – sometimes just to stay awake! Sometimes we are challenged to pray in a new way – by using the scriptures, the rosary, contemplative, conversational, liturgical, devotional, but to be faithful to our prayer is a hallmark of maturity in the spiritual life. Dry or tough periods can be opportunities to grow – Christ will see your perseverance, humility and faith and reward you! Sometimes it can even take many years to realize God’s way was the right way, or for us to perceive how he worked all things out for our ultimate benefit God always has his eyes in what is best for us in eternity. The best prayer is “Jesus, I Trust in You!”