20th Sunday in Ordinary Time- August 20th, 2017

     Faith, we all know, is a gift from God.  There is nothing we did or can do to first receive it.  Yet, we know some people have more of it than us, or less of it that us.  Yet, why is this so?  Jesus tells the Canaanite woman in the Gospel today, after she keeps hounding Him about her demon-tormented daughter, that great is her faith.  A pagan woman who was given the gift of faith, now no longer a pagan-who either believed in many gods or no god at all-now believed in the only Son of God.

     But, I think, perhaps a better translation would have been, "It was done for her as she believed." So how do we get more faith?  We believe so we already have faith in God.  Yet, how do we get more of it?  First, we must surrender to God all our concerns, hopes, and desires and place them in His hands.  Second, we must accept whatever He sends us in life as part of His Holy Will for us.  Third, we must grow in our gratitude for all He has done for us.  As Roman Catholics, this means being more concerned about our souls over anything else in life.

     Our daily prayer must be just that, daily and not just once in a while, or just when we need something from God.  You know we cannot grow spiritually closer to God unless we unite ourselves to Him as much as possible.  Prayer and the Sacraments do this for us.  Much like the Canaanite woman in the Gospel, she would not give up.  She kept calling our to the Lord Jesus until He responded.  So perseverance we can see is something we all need in the battleground we call life.  St. Monica, we know, prayed 30+ years for here wayward son, who because of her tears and prayers became St. Augustine!  So the lesson we learn here is never give up if you have been praying for someone or something.

     Yet, as we pray, we must never forget we need to always add to the end of our prayer, "if it be Your Holy Will, O Lord."  This statement humbles us acknowledging that everything turns our for the good of those who love the Lord.  Another humbling aspect of the spiritual life is asking others to pray for our intentions.  This is why we have a prayer tree in our parish like many others, if not all Catholic Churches.

     St. Thomas Aquinas says that this is one of the reasons Our Lord did not reply immediately to the Canaanite woman in today's Gospel.  He wanted His Disciples to intercede for her, which they did.  Jesus in this way taught us the importance of the intercession of the Saints. 

    For the Gentile woman, wanted an extraordinary miracle that required an extraordinary kind of prayer, accompanied by enormous faith and deep humility.

     Folks, it is said that faith nurtures prayer and prayer as it grows leads to a greater stronger faith.  Both are intimately connected.  This woman in the Gospel had a great faith.   She asks God's mercy for her daughter, and Jesus the Source of All Mercy grants it to her.He will grant the same to us if we but ask, like her, asking always with a deep faith and trust in Christ!!