Tuesday, August 16, 2005
If you have Faith  

Faith, which is essential to living the Christian life, is never a destination. Because if you have faith, God will want to grow what you have in to greater faith. It will never be good enough for the moment. He wants it to deepen at the next opportunity which He gives you.

Consider the faith of the Caananite woman of last Sunday's Gospel reading (Matthew 15:21-28).
Then Jesus went from that place and 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 he did not say a word in answer to her. His 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 him 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 her daughter was healed from that hour.
This woman has tremendous faith. She has been following Christ to get His help. She approaches him acknowledging that Jesus is the Lord, the Son of David which is far more than many of His followers even began to grasp. When she makes her request to our Lord, His initial response is silence. How many of us when we make a request of Jesus and hear no response simply give up? Not so, this woman. She stays right there in front of Jesus.

The disciples, recognize the woman's tenacity, but are too weak in their faith to assist her. Think about what she has said. She is asking Jesus to cast a demon out of her daughter. They know that Jesus has cast out many demons. It is no problem for Him to do so. But the disciples are not moved by the woman's plea or her faith. Instead, of asking Jesus to do for the woman as she requested, they implore our Lord to cast the woman from their presence because she is really beginning to grate on them.

Jesus replies to the disciples' request by stating that He was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel. Of course, Jesus has come to save all, but because salvation is from the Jews, He has come to the lost sheep of Israel, and He also says this to strengthen the woman's faith. How difficult is this for us! Finally, Jesus responds to our request, but it is not simply the granting of our desires. Instead, it is an opportunity to grow. It is a challenge to love Him more, to trust Him more, and to grow in our faith.

In reply to our Lord's words, the woman gives proper homage to Him. Again, she sees who He is when others who have spent so much more time with Him have no idea who He is. She simply requests, "Lord, help me." Jesus, once again, does not grant her desire, but gives a response that challenges her to grow in her faith, "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." The Jews referred with contempt to the Gentiles as dogs. Jesus uses this term only to make clear that the food designated for the children of Israel should not be given to the Gentiles. Consequently, she being a Gentile cannot claim that which God has ordained for the lost sheep of Israel.

In probably the most humble and wisest response to our Lord recorded in any of the Gospels, the woman replies, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." The woman takes the word "dogs" that our Lord used, and owns it. She acknowledges that she is a Gentile, merely a dog running around underneath the table of the children. However, even as a dog she asks that she might be allowed to eat the scraps of food which have been discarded by the children of Israel.

Jesus recognizes this woman's amazing faith, and then He grants her request. St. Matthew simply records that her daughter was immediately healed.

This woman's experience is our experience in prayer. Jesus never seems to simply grant a request like this. He always wants to take our faith to a higher level. It is painful to go through this because you simply want Him to say, "Yes" to your prayer. From His perspective, He wants us to simply say, "Yes" to Him and His will. By doing so, we allow Him to grow our faith. If we just complain that He is not answering our prayer, we cannot grow in faith. In fact, we will lose ground because our faith will weaken. But by saying, "Yes" to His way of answering our prayer, we will be at peace because our hearts will not be troubled with the answer to our prayers. Our hearts will be filled with faith and peace from the One whom we know loves us.

Posted by David at 1:30 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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