Video reflection from Fr. Tom Lankenau, S.J. Open to receive God’s gifts
Haven’t we all felt like the woman in the gospel? A friend’s cancer, financial woes, a broken marriage, rejection, confusion about the future. We pour out our hearts to God for help, and then wait in hope.
But the response is only silence…. Is God deaf to our prayers? Does God even care?
When the Canaanite woman cries out, ‘Son of David, have pity on me,’ does she not capture the longing of the whole world for God’s justice, God’s mercy and God’s love?
How is her plea received? …. Silence…. Is Jesus deaf to her prayers? Does Jesus even care?
Jesus’ response almost offends our sensibilities. How could he turn his back on this earnest plea? But the woman is not put off. She continues to pester Jesus, coming closer and then kneeling.
It’s a puzzling story. The woman is rejected 3 times, and finally Jesus acquiesces. Something is going on here that is a lesson for us today.
Was Jesus testing this woman? In order that she might come to know of her great faith. Was Jesus preparing her to receive the gift he wants to give her? That’s certainly the insight of St. Augustine.
Suppose you pray for something serious. Augustine’s insight was that if you receive it, you might not be in a position to fully appreciate it. But silence and rejection inspires you to persevere, to wait and wade.
As you wait and wade, your heart grows; your soul expands, and finally you are ready to receive what God wants to give you.
So it is with this woman, who Jesus obviously loves. He tests her and tries her, and she perseveres. She waits and wades through the silence and rejection. That’s why he praises her – “great is your faith.”
How often we are tried and tested the same way by the same Christ. And what’s our response? Discouragement?
Do we walk away, turn our backs on the one who wants to fill our heart with hope?
May our response be that of Canaanite women – perseverance in prayer, perseverance in faith.
That our hearts might grow and our soul expand to enable us to fully receive the good gifts that God wants to give us.
Fr. Tom Lankenau, S.J.
A few gentle reminders:
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