At Home with Our Faith
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 15: 21-28
The persistent Canaanite woman in the Gospel story proves the saying, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." Even though the disciples are annoyed by her, even though Jesus himself seems to ignore her, she won't be denied a hearing. Faith has blossomed in her, thanks to the presence and grace of Jesus. She says the crucial words: "Please, Lord!" Her heartfelt prayer and humble declaration of faith seems to change Jesus' mind, and he grants her request. It is as though Jesus was waiting for her to declare her faith in him openly before granting her request.
The idea that prayer can change God's mind may shock us. However, the notion of an unchanging God -- "the unmoved mover" -- comes down to us from Aristotle and the Greek philosophers, not the Bible. God in the Bible is free to act as love requires. In Deuteronomy 9:13-14, Moses persists in pleading for mercy toward wayward Israel, and God "repents" of the plan to destroy the people and start over. This word repent is used 36 times of God in the Bible. Moses and the Canaanite woman of today's gospel are convinced that they can challenge God because they had faith. Our faith calls us to speak up to God in prayer when we are in trouble. Prayer opens us to receive what God knows we need.
What does love require of you today? Have you been too rigid with someone who needs your mercy. "If today you hear God's voice, harden not your heart." And don't forget to say, "Please."