Posted by: fvbcdm | August 26, 2014

Feast of Saint Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars  (26 August 2014)

In the gospel of Matthew, we have that wonderful little episode in the life of Jesus that is so full of meaning and message for us. He and the apostles are on a little vacation, as it were, along the Mediterranean Sea, to the northwest of the Holy Land. Today it would be called Lebanon. A woman of that region comes to him; her daughter is possessed by a demon, and she has evidently heard that Jesus is a wonderworker who can cast out demons. The lady desperately wants help for her child who is in such distress. She addresses Our Lord by calling him “Lord,” and “Son of David,” which was a title for the Messiah who was expected. It is obvious that the woman knew something of Jewish theology even though she was herself not Jewish. She explains her situation very briefly to Our Lord, beginning with the words, “have pity on me.” Jesus, uncharacteristically, says not a word to her, but simply keep on walking along the road. The apostles say to him, in the woman’s hearing, “Give her what she wants; she keeps calling after us.” And Our Lord says, also in the hearing of the pagan woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Which was true: in God’s plan, Jesus would exercise his ministry to the Jewish people, even though he accomplished the redemption of all of humanity.

After His resurrection and the first Pentecost, the apostles, especially Saint Paul, would begin to preach to the Gentile world as well. Now, at least Jesus has spoken; she is encouraged by this recognition of her presence, and she is bold enough to come, kneel before him and say, simply, urgently, desperately: “Lord, help me!” It was common in those days for the Jews to refer to the rest of the world as “dogs.” The idea was that they were members of God’s household, too, but analogous to the pet dogs that many families kept. So Our Lord says to her, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She might have been insulted and offended by this. But she couldn’t afford to be; she believed that Jesus could, if he wished, help her, and she had no choice but to deal with him. Her love for her daughter and the problem that they were facing causes the woman to be clever and bold in dealing with this man whom she has called “Lord” and “Son of David.” Seizing upon His words, she turns them to her advantage. “Call me a dog if you will,” she retorts, “but treat me like a pet dog. Even they eat the scraps that fall from the family table!” Our Lord’s sacred heart is helpless against this kind of faith, trust, humility, and persistence. Her daughter is delivered of the demon. Let us also pray with faith, trust, humility, and persistence. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This Message was composed some years ago.

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