August 17, 2008
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 15: 21-28
Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.
Introductory Prayer: Dear Lord, make my faith in you grow. I believe in you, but I also hold on to material and human security. Teach me to put you in the first place in my life, so that I may be able to see things as you see them. Lord, help me to trust you in such a way that I avoid my selfishness when I pray to you. I need to learn to place all my trust in you. Don’t let me place my trust on anything that is not you. I love you, Lord, because only by loving you will I be able to experience that there is no one, nor any thing, greater than you.
Petition: Lord, grant me the practice of a lively and profound faith
1. Jesus Wants Faith When children want their parents’ permission, they usually try to learn where their parents’ weaknesses are. If they know mom is more easy-going when they help clean, they will try to clean the kitchen before asking mom’s permission for something. When we want something from Jesus, we have to understand that his “weakness” is our faith. He wants us to believe in him and to trust in him with all our heart. That is why Jesus says many times, “Your faith has healed you,” or as in today’s Gospel passage, “Great is your faith.”
2. Faith Doesn’t Give Up There are things in our lives that we need but that neither we nor anyone else can give to us. That is why we pray to God. If it seems that God does not listen to us, it isn’t that he’s not listening, but rather that he wants us to place all our trust in him. In this way we will become aware of the following reality: Only God can make us happy. That is why prayer is so important. God wants us to be insistent in prayer, because in insisting we grow more aware of God’s loving providence. Some people say they are tired of praying because they don’t receive what they ask for. They should ask themselves if what they ask for is truly for their spiritual welfare or only for their material gain.
3. Faith Acquires What It Asks For People who really believe in Christ will sense whether their petitions are the right ones. Asking for something that satisfies our selfishness or goes against God’s will means that Christ is not in the first place in our lives, and, therefore, we do not really believe in him. Those who truly believe in Christ will tap into Christ’s saving power. Only then will they understand Christ’s words: “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7). God has many things in store for us. We will get them only if we ask for them with faith.
Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, you know what is best for me, but many times I don’t. It is hard to give more importance to my spiritual needs than to my material needs. Enlighten my mind and strengthen my will so that I may want only what you want for me.
Resolution: When I ask Christ for something in prayer, I will make sure there is no selfishness in my petition.
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