Today is Wednesday the 4 August, the feast of St John Mary Vianney, in the Eighteenth week of Ordinary time.
The Choir of the King’s Consort sing Henry Purcell’s Hear My Prayer, O Lord: “Hear My Prayer, O Lord, and let my crying come unto thee.” As I listen, I too bring my prayer, my needs and my longings, the deepest feelings of my heart, before the Lord.
Today’s reading is from the Gospel of Matthew.
Jesus left Gennesaret and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." He answered, "It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.
Sometimes Jesus says things that are puzzling and even disturbing. Does he really mean to spurn this Canaanite woman, or is this an example of a kind of robust banter that provokes a deeper response of faith? How do you imagine this scene unfolding?
We are changed by the people we meet. Might this be true too of Jesus? Perhaps he is changed by the faith of this woman. And what about yourself? What about you? How might you desire to be changed by your encounter with Jesus?
As you listen again to the reading, see if you can picture the look on Jesus’s face as he speaks to the Canaanite women, and as he hears her response.
The Canaanite woman may be an outsider here because she is not a Jew, but she has faith in Jesus and that makes her ask for his help. However strong or weak you feel your faith is, what might you want to ask Jesus to help you with today?
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.