A Lesson in Perseverance

Matthew 15: 21-28
Nm 13:1-2,25—14:1,26-35 / Ps 106

Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.
(Matthew 15:28)

Have faith in God when we implore
His help for those under our care,
We will receive what we ask for
When we persevere in prayer.

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to Him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So His disciples came to Him and urged Him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before Him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” But she replied, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus said, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matthew 15:21-28)

Reflection

A little perseverance always pays. As Jesus taught in one of His parables about a similar situation, a man borrowing three loaves of bread from a friend was told, “Do not bother me, the door has already been locked, and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.” But Jesus said, “He will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence” (Lk.11:5-8).

In today’s Gospel reading, it was not only the Canaanite woman’s persistence that moved Jesus to grant her wish, but her love for her demon-possessed daughter, her faith in Jesus’ power to heal with only a word, and her great humility. Jesus’ silence at first and His disciples’ derogatory words (“Send her away!”) should have hurt and dissuaded her, but instead she knelt and pleaded for His help. Even when her tribe was referred to as “dogs” she only replied humbly, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” What she meant by “crumbs” was that she was not asking Jesus to go with her and take His time away from His apostles; the only thing that was needed was for Jesus to say the word, and her daughter would be healed. And Jesus exclaimed, “Woman, you have great faith!”

Our Lord’s lessons on faith, compassion and perseverance easily apply to our own day-to-day experiences in our community. When our Programs and Services Director requested me to head the Ways & Means Committee to raise funds for our medical mission of mercy, which was barely two weeks away, it seemed like another case of “break the glass in case of emergency.” But instead of declining this sudden, unexpected assignment, I just said OK, and prayed to God for help, trusting that He would guide me in preparing a plan in such a short period of time. Then it dawned on me that raising funds for this worthy cause was simply a matter of writing personal solicitation letters to selected members of our community, and appealing for their help for the sake of the impoverished families we were serving. The generous response of many members in the organization was a manifestation of God’s boundless generosity and compassion in the hearts of His children. It also boosted my faith in His promise, “I answer everyone who invokes me” (Ps 91:15).

Dear God, You have shown Your kindness and compassion to all who persevere in prayer, especially when our prayers are for the benefit of the sick, the poor and the underprivileged in our midst. Grant that we may never lose sight of our duty to give care to the ‘little ones’, even to those who do not share our faith. Amen.

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