HOMILY FOR THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A
HOMILY THEME: FAITH IN ACTION
BY: Fr Benny Tuazon
In the day’s Gospel we have a Canaanite woman, a member of the Gentile community, asking the Lord Jesus to help her daughter who was being tormented by a demon. Jesus did not bother to address her plea. Jesus clarified His non-action: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
The plan of God was to begin the work of salvation in Israel. Canaan was not part of Israel. Places outside of Israel was called the Gentile world to Israel’s Chosen people. In other words, Jesus was telling the Canaanite woman that it was not yet their time. Soon, after the deliverance of Israel, they will receive the grace of salvation.
But the woman was persistent. Jesus told her: “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Jesus went as far as comparing the woman and her child to a dog. Hopefully, it will dissuade her from pursuing Jesus. She did not. She loved her daughter too much to be easily discouraged even by a harsh statement from the Lord. She came up wit a response which floored Jesus, and maybe, realized He was mistaken about this woman. “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”
She was saying, “Call me a dog or whatever you want. But I am just asking a very small part. I wish not to take the portion of the children of Israel. Certainly, there are scraps which would not affect the nourishment of the Chosen people.” She understood and respected Jesus’ mission. She was not being choosy. Any help will be enough for her. She had faith!
It did not escape Jesus. He saw the determination of the Canaanite woman to free her daughter form the demon. She believed in Jesus. She had nothing to lose. She resorted to persistence hoping that Jesus would spare something for her daughter no matter how minute. To a person with great faith, even an iota of grace will be enough. Jesus must have remembered His teaching on the mustard seed. “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
She got what she wanted! Her persistence and determination were proof of her faith. It should be clear that God does not need to be pressured. He gives grace to to everyone at all times. But worthiness is necessary. Faith makes us worthy of God’s grace. In this case, the woman expressed her faith through her persistence and determination. Jesus will not miss it!