Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 56:1,6-7; Psalm 67:2-3,5-6,8; Romans 11:13-15,29-32; Matthew 15:21-28)
Sharing the Love of Christ and Praying for Others
“O woman, great is your faith!” (Matthew 15:28)
Can you imagine having your request rejected by Jesus three different times, as happened to this woman? First, Jesus ignored her. Then he says he wasn’t sent to Gentiles, only to Jews. Finally, he implies that she is not much more than a “dog” (Matthew 15:26). How discouraging this must have been! But she would not be denied, and Jesus finally grants her request.
Now do you really think that Jesus was going to leave this poor woman’s daughter in the grip of demonic possession? Isn’t it possible, instead, that he was using this opportunity to teach his disciples something?
Jesus showed his disciples that God’s mercy and love extend to everyone. In all his words in this episode, he seemed to emphasize the fact that she was a pagan. But in the end he praised her great faith, making it clear that anyone who turns to him in faith will be welcomed, not just the “right people,” not just faithful Jews.
Surely Peter remembered this episode when he was invited later to share the gospel with the Roman centurion Cornelius. Breaking with Jewish tradition, Peter enters the officer’s house and tells him: “You know that it is unlawful for a Jewish man to associate with, or visit, a Gentile, but God has shown me that I should not call any person profane or unclean” (Acts 10:28). As a result of Peter’s attitude, Gentiles were baptized for the fi rst time, and the church was opened to people of all races and backgrounds.
Just as he did with Peter and the others, Jesus wants to expand our vision. He wants everyone to be saved, not just the ones we might consider worthy. So be on the lookout today for situations where you can share the love of Christ with someone you might otherwise pass by. You may be surprised at who you discover is willing to listen.
“Lord, help me to put aside anything that hinders your plan. Give me your heart so that I can bring others to yourself.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- In the first reading, Isaiah says, “Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed.” What do you think this means? How does it apply to you?
- Also Isaiah speaks of the all-inclusiveness of God’s love; all peoples are welcome in God’s house. Who are the people you exclude from your love or God’s love? What steps can you take to change that? Take some time now to pray for these people.
- In the responsorial psalm, the psalmist prays for God’s mercy and blessing, not just for himself but so that God’s “way be known upon earth; among all nations your salvation.” Who are some of today’s nations that need to turn back to God? Why not also take some time now to pray for these nations that need God’s blessing and knowledge of his wonderful salvation?
- In the second reading, St. Paul prays for God’s mercy on his fellow Jewish countrymen and for their conversion. Are their any Jewish persons you know that need to come to know God’s great love for them? Why not join your prayers with Paul’s and pray for the conversion of the Jewish people, and any specific Jewish persons you know?
- In the Gospel, why do you think Jesus praises the great faith of the Canaanite woman? Her faith can certainly be seen in her perseverance in asking Jesus to heal her daughter, in spite of the initial lack of response. What are the situations in which you struggle to persevere in prayer, because the prayers don’t seem to be answered? Take some time now to pray for these situations.
- The meditation ends with these challenging words: “be on the lookout today for situations where you can share the love of Christ with someone you might otherwise pass by. You may be surprised at who you discover is willing to listen.” What steps can you take during the day to respond to this challenge?
- Take some time now and pray that you would have the grace, courage, and boldness to reach out to others with the love of Christ. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.