Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 14, 2005
Scriptural Reference: Matthew 15:21-28
Sometimes, in certain Gospel stories where Jesus seems to interact harshly with people who approach him with a problem or asking for a miracle, we may read negatively and wonder why Jesus, who is so compassionate in other instances would even be what we consider insulting.
As you followed the interaction of Jesus with the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel, you may have been disappointed in Jesus’ words to her.
The end result, however, is good. She gets the miracle she is looking for, the healing of her daughter.
Furthermore, we perhaps overlook Jesus’ final words to her, after a painful interaction, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear Jesus say to any of us, O woman, O man, O child, great is your faith.
This story brings me to reflect on the fact that as human beings if we do not have a good attitude in facing problems, suffering, hurts of all sorts, adversity, personal issues, remnants of past offenses, even perhaps especially our sins, we will not have a very happy fulfilled life.
With all the people I have gotten to know in the ministry, with all their problems and hurts, I know that it isn’t people who have had no problems or hurts who are happy – it’s people who have faced their problems, sought healing for their hurts, people who have forgiven and been forgiven, people who didn’t just say “poor me” or “why me?”, but moved ahead the best they could no matter how bad a situation might have been.
If we think we will get through life without problems, without suffering, we are not in the real world.
If you know someone who doesn’t have any wounds or scars from past hurts, it’s because you do not know everything about that person.
On the other hand, I hope we all know people whose trials, problems and issues have caused them to grow to greater levels of courage, patience, compassion and care for others. I’ve known people to dedicate their lives to others and become the most wonderful human beings. I’ve seen individuals face their own problems of alcoholism and become better human beings than they would have been without the challenge.
And so, whatever life has dished out to you in the past, right now, go to Jesus as the Canaanite woman did and tell him your needs, wrestle with the problem, the hurt, the issues. Then move ahead with the conviction that something good can come of this, with his help, there will be healing, there will be growth and resolution.
May Jesus be able to say to each one of us “O woman, O man, O child, great is your faith!