Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Faith is like electricity. You can't see it, but you can see the light

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew.
-- Saint Francis de Sales

Gospel text (Mt 15:21-28): Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon . Now a Canaanite woman came from those borders and began to cry out, «Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon». But Jesus did not answer her, not even a word. So his disciples approached him and said, «Send her away: see how she is shouting after us». Then Jesus said to her, «I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel ». But the woman was already kneeling before Jesus and said, «Sir, help me!». Jesus answered, «It is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to the little dogs». The woman replied, «It is true, sir, but even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master's table». Then Jesus said, «Woman, how great is your faith! Let it be as you wish». And her daughter was healed at that moment.

This passage of the Gospel draws the attention to that Canaanite mother that demands grace for her daughter by recognizing in Jesus the Son of David: «Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon» (Mt 15:22). The Master is surprised: «Woman, how great is your faith!” and He can do nothing but to act in favor of those persons: «Let it be as you wish» (Mt 15:28), although this does not seem to fall within his schedule. However, God's grace is manifested in human realities.

St Augustine stated: “The woman was ignored, not that mercy might be denied but that desire might be enkindled; not only that desire might be enkindled but... that humility might be praised.”Whatever forces these various points may have, in the end Jesus helped this foreign pagan woman and even praised her faith. This must be a challenge to every purely intellectual definition of faith. Like the Samaritan woman (Jn 4:25-29), this Canaanite woman publicly acknowledged Jesus' identity before any of the disciples did (Mt 16:16).

Faith is not a privilege of a few, nor is it the property of those who think they are so good or of those who have ever been good, and have this social or ecclesial label. The Holy Spirit is already acting upon persons we would have never suspected could bring us a message from God, a request in favor of the needy. St. Leo says: «My beloved, the virtue and wisdom of Christian faith is our love of God and of our neighbor: it does not miss any obligation to any pious works procuring to render God worship due to him and to help our brethren».

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
--Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

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