Faith can seem rather fickle for many of us. One day our affirmative choice for God feels easy, the next it does not and sin has the opportunity to enter our lives.
The truth of the matter is that we never know how strong we are until our strength is tested. It is likewise for our faith, which God readily permits to be tested for our own eternal benefit in the same way a parent might test the burgeoning maturity of a child through added chores, increased freedoms, and the like.
This week, on the occasion of the twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, we see this test on the part of Jesus who seems (not once, but twice!) to refuse to help a Canaanite woman simply because she is not part of the "house of Israel" (Mt 15:24). He even goes so far as to refer to her metaphorically as a dog (cf. Mt.15:26), which, in the time of Christ, would have been infinitely more insulting than today.
As so often we are called to do with such difficult biblical passages, we ask "why?" The Church, as mother and teacher, already answers by pairing this reading in the liturgy with passages that make it clear that Salvation goes beyond the Jewish people to all nations (cf. Ps. 67) with God's house being one of "prayer for all peoples" (Is. 56:7). Paul also adds to this by also upholding Gentile faith as an example to the Jews who would not accept Christ (Rom 11:13-15).
Jesus's seeming denial of aid draws out the zealous faith of the Canaanite woman, and in the presence of his disciples no less, who also, but actually, wanted to dismiss her. This, no doubt, was a teaching moment for them as well.
Do you rise to the lessons and tests in faith that God gives?
Looking forward to seeing you this weekend, where we explore this further as well as celebrate the long awaiting First Communion of some of our parishes youngest disciples. Let us offer up prayers that their faith may be ever nourished by the reception of our Lord in the Eucharist.
Sincerely in Christ,
The Clergy & Staff of Blessed Sacrament