Reflection for Nursing Home Prayer Service
August 18, 2014
Readings: Is 56:1, 6-7; Psalm 67; Rom 11:13-15, 29-32; Mt 15:21-28
by Mrs. Rita Zimmermann, Faith Formation Coordinator
Oh what faith she had! This Canaanite woman! You see, she knew she would not be welcome among those who followed Jesus as she was not a Jew, but a pagan and a woman! What courage and determination she must have had to just get up and leave her daughter to seek out the only person she knew that could help her. To grant her request. And she was rejected not once but twice by Jesus himself!
You see, up to this point in scripture, Jesus the Messiah was only reaching out to the Jewish people – the “chosen ones.” Scripture scholars will tell us that from this point on, the Gospel shifts and the “Good News” is given to both Jew and Gentile alike. That this message of hope and salvation was not the privilege of the Jewish people alone, but they were to be the doorway for everyone Jew and pagan alike.
The Canaanite woman just happened to walk through that doorway before either Jesus or the Jewish people were quite ready for her. I have to be honest here; this Canaanite woman is what captivates me when I hear this story. She boldly reaches out to the only person she believes who can help her. She doesn’t try to bribe Jesus in giving her what she desires. Haven’t we all done that at times tried to bribe Jesus? If I only were a better person, if I only prayed more, or said one more Rosary or this novena for us Catholics. I need to change first before God will hear my prayer, get back to church, change my moral behavior. While all those things are good, that is not why God saves us. Haven’t we all at times said, “I’m not worthy?”
Did you catch the line in the second reading? For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all. Not some but ALL! You see everyone who comes to God with a request is not worthy – not Mother Teresa, not the pastor, not the most holy person you know, not me and not you. No, God shows us mercy because he loves us, not for what we have done or failed to do.
The Canaanite woman somehow knew deep within that Jesus could help her. And most importantly WOULD help her. We need to follow her example when we are weighted down with our own problems or those of someone we love. We have all heard the sad news this past week that Robin Williams took his own life. Now I liked Robin Williams, and grew up watching him in Mork & Mindy and his movies that followed. I also know that depression is a very serious illness not something you can just snap out of. It is like going down into a dark pit that just keeps getting deeper and deeper and there is no way out. No hope – only despair.
However the Gospel story today shows us that there is no pit too deep that God can’t go deeper or problem too large that God can’t handle. It could be illness, the death of a loved one, or the loss of our independence due to an accident or age, a bad decision in our past, or a host of other things.
It is Faith that is needed when we come with a request… complete trust that God can and will grant our request if it is in our best interest. May we have the faith and courage of the Canaanite woman to hear Jesus say:
“Great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”