HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
HOMILY THEME: LIVING YOUR FAITH
BY: Fr. Benny Tuazon
In the day’s Gospel Jesus meets a mother, Syrophoenician, whose daughter had an unclean spirit. Having heard about Jesus’ miracles, she dared to approach Him. Dared because she was not yet worthy. This can be seen from the exchange between Jesus and the mother.
After the woman begged the Lord to drive out the unclean spirit from her daughter: Jesus said, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs!”
Mother: “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”
Jesus said: “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.”
The initial response of Jesus seems to be harsh, degrading and discriminating. We have to understand the context which Jesus and the woman (a Gentile, a non-Jew). The plan of God, which every Jew knew and possibly the woman too, was to begin the word of salvation in Israel. The Jews were the chosen people. They were to be the first to receive the Good News. Gentiles, like Syrophoenicians and Samaritans, were outside Israel and thus, were not yet entitled.
The Jews were the children and the Gentiles were the dogs in the repartee between Jesus and the mother. The response of the woman was a response of faith and need. Jesus saw the faith and supplied the need even if it was not yet due.
This usually happens to those who are entitled. Laxity and complacency happen. Indeed, titles are not sufficient. One has to be worthy. Jesus was not recognised and was even rejected in His hometown Nazareth. He wanted to make miracles there. But He was able to make only a few because He was looked down. They judged Him by His family and relatives.
Being Catholic, we believe that we are the true Church founded by Jesus Christ. We believe that the true deposit of faith was passed on to us by virtue of our unbroken link to the apostles. Jesus died for us and merited salvation to all. By virtue of baptism we receive the fullness of the grace of the cross. But it does not end there. We have to live what we believe. Becoming Catholic alone is not the end of the story. We need to profess, imbibe and enflesh our faith.