Today’s Gospel: Matthew 15, 21-28
The Gospel passage dealing with the faith of the Canaanite woman is troubling to many. Did Jesus just berate this poor woman by calling her a dog? What does this mean? She is a Gentile, of course. Yet she is persistent with him to no end. She acknowledges that even the dogs eat the scraps from the table of their masters. He then rewards her for her faith.
Looking deeper at the passage and beyond the seeming harshness of our Lord’s words, we see at the center of this confrontation the essence of the woman’s faith. It is her undying call for Jesus to, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!” This exclamation is made by others elsewhere in the Gospels. Those people are also rewarded for their faith. This is a variant on that same theme, and the exclamation that has become known as the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It is revered as a prayer of the heart in the eastern Church, and is what St. Paul must have meant in advocating unending prayer.
Therefore, it is not just her persistence – or unabashed humility in her acknowledgement – but her unceasing petition, her prayer from her heart, that shows her faith and purity worthy of our Lord. Through this simple, contemplative act, she shows us how to have faith and what our reward can be.
In what ways can you use this simple prayer to deepen your faith?
Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Copyright 2016 Michael Astfalk
Michael Astfalk is married to Catholic author Carolyn Astfalk. They reside in Hummelstown, PA with their 4 children. He is a devout husband, father and Roman Catholic. In his spare time he is an assistant Boy Scout leader. If he isn’t fixing up the home & yard, he can be found spending time with his family.