“Children have a lesson adults should learn, to not be ashamed of failing, but to get up and try again. Most of us adults are so afraid, so cautious, so 'safe,' and therefore so shrinking and rigid and afraid that it is why so many humans fail. Most middle-aged adults have resigned themselves to failure.” ― Malcolm X: 1925–1965: was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist)
Gospel Text: (MT 15:21-28)
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
"Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon."
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus' disciples came and asked him,
"Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us."
He said in reply,
"I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, "Lord, help me."
He said in reply,
"It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs."
She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters."
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
"O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish."
And the woman's daughter was healed from that hour.
You cannot force someone to have faith in God. No matter how many arguments a person devises to prove the existence of God, all of them can be argued against, though whether the opposing arguments have merit is another matter. Jesus preached in public for three years, but He did not spend His time offering proofs of God’s existence. There is a saying: “You love people to faith, you love people to hope, and you love people to love.” Today’s Gospel shows us how faith becomes love.
God demands faith from us, even when we believe we have none. He is willing to “pull” our faith out of us—indeed, to test us—in order to purify our faith. Jesus knows what sort of faith this woman has in todays Gospel. He is willing to draw it out, because without faith on this woman’s part, He will not work a miracle.
Faith is always required for God to work in our lives. God requires faith, in the sense that He demands it from us. Whenever you read the Gospel, and see an occasion where Jesus does not work a miracle, it is not because His divine power has “run out”. Without faith on our part, God’s grace would be an empty gift. But what kind of faith does God want from us?
The faith that God wants from us is not passive. It’s active. God does not want the sort of faith that says, “God is going to take care of everything, so I can sit back and coast.” This is not our Catholic understanding of faith. Faith involves something active on our part. It demands constant prayer. It demands the sort of dialogue, the sort of banter, that we hear between Jesus and the Gentile woman. We might even say that God wants us to challenge Him in our prayer, so that He might challenge us to greater faith, and thereby greater love.