August 16, 2020
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time A
Fr. Ed Smith
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28
When we pray, what if it doesn’t seem that God is listening? Answering? Caring? “How many of us have prayed for something and felt that God was silent in His response? But does silence mean inattentiveness? Does it mean that God isn’t listening or doesn’t care? Let’s consider the Gospel for this weekend: A Canaanite woman cries out to Jesus that her daughter is “tormented by a demon.” And Jesus, who is usually so quick to respond to people in need, does not say a word in answer to her. So, she persists in her request that He help her. Jesus’ response is then uncharacteristically harsh sounding to this non-Israelite woman: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel…It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” It seems so dismissive, so ugly. But what is happening is actually quite wonderful: Jesus is teaching that woman to reach down to the depths of her soul and see Him through the eyes of humility and faith. At the outset, she sees him basically as a magical healer who should give her what she wants. But by the time Jesus is through with her she is a changed woman: a person who has come to faith. But that is not all. Jesus is also teaching His disciples who witness this event a great lesson. He shows that He responds to the needs of ALL God’s children, not just the people of Israel. Jesus, though at first apparently silent and even harsh, loves this woman enough to offer her a life of faith she never knew was possible, and allow her to grow into something new. She had to realize that this was an encounter with Love, not an entitled expectation from some magician who can cure the sick. Maybe the next time we pray for something and feel that all we get from God is silence, we might remember this remarkable woman, whose persistence, humility and faith opened her up to accepting Jesus as He is and receiving His gift of healing. Like her, we just might realize that, yes, God IS listening, and ready to give us more than we ever asked for or even imagined!