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Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

I like to get into the mind of that mother in today’s Gospel and notice how her love for her daughter gives her the adrenaline to kneel in front of Jesus, address him as Son of David and her Lord, and match wits with him until he unleashes his mercy and power.

O Woman, great is your faith!

And there isn’t a mother out there who isn’t doing this every day.  Lord, my son is bipolar and can’t hold down a job.  Lord, my daughter is chronically depressed.  Lord, my children don’t go to church and haven’t baptized my grandchildren.  Lord, I’ll do anything, say anything, be anything you want me to be.  Please just heal my child.

And I think the story is a set-up, of course.  Jesus ignores her at first.  Finally, after she has done everything she can to flatter and honor him, he throws out the ultimate challenge: why should he heal her Canaanite daughter ―a “dog” in his racist Middle Eastern culture—when his mission is to the Jews alone?

And she returns his volley like no one else in Matthew’s gospel: Lord, even the dogs get the scraps from the table. Now, what happened next didn’t get recorded, but can’t you imagine the two of them just roaring with laughter?  Jesus, delighted that she saw through his little test of her faith, congratulates her on the faith he is trying to instill in his own Hebrew race.  And I’ll bet she took him aside and said We felt your love before you ever reached the city gates.  Blessed are you for seeking us out and bringing us into your kingdom.

In what ways have you persevered in prayer throughout your life?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Ordinary Time - Cycle A

6 Comments to “Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A”

  1. Lord, thank you for keeping my sons safe in Your loving arms. If it be Your will, may I rest with them when my earthly work is finished.

    On my way to perfect . . .

    http://www.todaysepistle.com

  2. Oh, wow, Kathy! What struck me even more than the question was your comment about what the woman may have said, “We felt your love before you ever reached the city gates.” So often I try to send love into situations before entering them. I consciously direct love and light to places of confrontation, situations where I know it will be difficult for me to deal, groups in which I usually disappear and become invisible. Recognizing that God is already there gives me courage to deal with the fear of the unknown especially in what my imagination construes as being an unpleasant encounter. Knowing that I, too, can trust God’s love to be present colors the possibility that God is seeking the best of who I am and will help me not only heal, but also flourish.
    I just love this Canaanite woman who teaches me to persevere in prayer, especially when everything seems dark, dreary and unlikely to change. At the same time, I know that as I continue to pray, sometimes my prayer changes without me even knowing it. When my brother’s cancer returned, I prayed and asked others to pray boldly seeking a miraculous cure. In retrospect, someplace along the line I began praying for healing, which is so different. Finally I prayed for mercy. There were no other words to pray. In the four years, my prayer changed for my brother and his situation. I didn’t even realize it happened until after he passed away. I can only believe that in the midst of the pain of watching someone I love suffer so much, the Spirit of God was groaning in me in a way that only God knew and comprehended.

  3. Bobbie,

    I related to your comment in ways I cannot explain.

    Years ago, our pastor called me over to a conversation he was having with another person. “Come and meet the only person to ever go to Lourdes and come home and get sick,” he said.

    “You don’t know that,” I responded. “I had a friend who had breast cancer. She went to Lourdes and came home and died. But, isn’t that the ultimate healing?”

    When my son was undergoing treatment for leukemia, I prayed more than I have ever prayed in my life. I know, in my heart, I wanted him to be healed to be here with me. When he died, I realized that he is more fully with me now than he ever could have been had he survived the bone marrow transplant. It’s totally different, and I miss his smiles and jokes and bone-crushing hugs. When I pay attention, however, he has many messages for his ‘mudder.”

  4. My prayer life is very important to me. I read the liturgy of the hours every morning. I have since I graduated from CBS (Catholic Biblical School). This reading was tough to understand at first but now I see the importance of persistence and unrelenting faith. I am constantly tested throughout life especially right now when I am called to be a big part of a new program for men called That Man is You at COTM. I pray that I will speak from my heart and follow the example set for me by so many friend and teachers I’ve had at Catholic Biblical School. I’ve definitely “increased my territory.” Thank you Kathy and Ben

  5. Thank you Bobbie and Brevis for such profound faith. – Cris

  6. When my father fell into a coma in 1980, the tention at the hospital was so thick that it was like walking in quicksand. What made it harder yet is I wasn’t very close to my dad, we were just getting to know each other, my mom and dad separted before I was born. My cousins and dad were much closer, I felt like a stranger around these people. I was the Canaanite woman so to speak, our feelings were different and our faith were really different. I wasn’t asking the Lord for dad’s reovery, I knew that he was gone, he was brain dead and all that laid there was his poor damaged body, half the family were begging him to pull through and half were comforting him with words of assurence that it was okay to let go and go to Heavan. I wasn’t sure what to pray for there were so many levels of pain there, I just wanted his suffering and the family bickering to stop. I went off alone and called my mom and from this very unlikely women who had divorced and had very few warm memories or feelings for this man came the wise answer, she said he is your father go tell him you love him and how your believe in God’s mercy i far greater then anybody’s wants, feelings or believes, then go pray alone for God’s mercy on Your dad. I did and 20 minutes later he passed. I learn that God’s mercy isn’t what we want to happen but what needs to happen. That once you put in His hands there is a great lifting of pressure because He always does the most loving thing for all concerned. He also put dear Kathy there to comfort me through his funeral. The Canaanite woman went into a land unfriendly and risked trusting Jesus to act fairly, I’m sure small groups were standing there thinking how dare she come here and ask him for anything the Dog. And as his mercy unfolded before their eyes, they saw that this Son of God loved all people saints and sinners.

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