Up to now, I’m still savoring the Lord’s assurance last week: “Don’t worry, it is I.” For the 386 times the Holy Book mentions “Do not be afraid” — as if it’s not enough assurance from the Lord — He tells us that having faith will unlock the blessings that we long for. Or the fervent prayers that we obtain our innermost desires out of His goodness and mercy. Especially those petitions we believe is really good for us.
In the Gospel, the Canaanite woman (the Canaanites are generally looked down upon by the Jewish people) comes to Jesus with a deep faith, asking for help for her daughter, possessed by a demon. Jesus challenges her resolve by saying:
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did Jesus 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.”
Such was her faith — very deep enough to convince Jesus to give her desperation, her heart’s hopelessness.
If you reflect on the reading, the Canaanite woman was actually very mournful, like telling Jesus, “What I am asking is nothing to you but everything to me”. Jesus could have persisted with his position that he was “sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” but her need and her desperation allowed Jesus to go beyond His limits (of His mission’s scope) to respond with generosity.
Loving others is not the love of family, or the love of friends, but the love of enemies. These are the people who are exactly that — unlovable — as we label them to be. This condition is exactly what it is: “loving until it hurts”. The Canaanite woman provides a different look at how we view compassion and generosity. We tend to give to others our excesses, which cost us almost nothing; and yet this could mean the world to them!
The Lord is the God of all. As Champions, we have a duty to embrace others in this world who may be different from ourselves, to respect and love them, especially our enemies.
So the next time we see a little girl in the street selling Sampaguita leis, an elderly needing help on something, presence in our child’s piano recital, or whatever; let us remember Jesus’ challenge. Let us be aware and reflect on those seeking our help: Are they the Canaanite women of our lives, hoping for us to share something which is not important to us but everything to them?
“O God, let all the nations praise you!” (Ps. 67: 4)