Perseverance in Humble Faith

At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. Matthew 15:21–23

The district of Tyre and Sidon was non-Jewish territory. The people there were said to have been descendants of Cain, the son of Adam and Eve who killed his brother, Abel, and was banished. He and his descendants settled in the area of Tyre and Sidon and were not heirs to the faith given through Abraham, Moses and the prophets, making them Gentiles. Jesus and His disciples traveled about 40 miles by foot to this district from Galilee to flee Herod and the Pharisees who were seeking to kill Him. While there, Jesus intended to keep a low profile, but word of His presence spread, and this Canaanite woman came to Him to beg that He heal her daughter.

At first, it is surprising that Jesus remained silent. She came to Him with deep faith and trust, and He did not answer her at first. His disciples wanted her to stop bothering them, and Jesus Himself eventually responded to her stating that His mission during His public ministry was to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” meaning, to the Jews. Of course, later Jesus would expand His mission entrusted to the Apostles to include the Gentiles. But at first, Jesus’ mission was to the descendants of Abraham.

As we read this story today, it is clear that it was by God’s providence that this woman came to Jesus as she did. The Father drew her to Him, and Jesus participated in this discourse, not to be rude or dismissive but to allow her to manifest a faith that was clearly lacking in the lives of many.

In our lives, at times God seems silent. But if He is silent, we must know that it is for good reason. God never ignores us; rather, His silence is a way of drawing us even closer to Himself than if He were to be immediately “loud and clear,” so to speak. Silence from God is not necessarily a sign of His disfavor. It’s often a sign of His purifying action drawing us to a much fuller manifestation of our faith.

As for the Gentile woman, unlike many of the Jews, she manifested a faith in the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. This is evident by her calling Him “Son of David.” Her trust in Jesus’ ability to heal her daughter was expressed in very simple and clear words. She didn’t need to present herself as worthy of His help, because her trust in Him was all that was needed. Furthermore, she persevered in her prayer. First, Jesus is silent. Then, His disciples try to dismiss her. And then, Jesus gives the appearance of refusing her request. All of this results not in her discouragement but in perseverance and hope. And that hope was also extraordinarily humble. Jesus’ goal of allowing her to deepen her faith and manifesting it for all to see was accomplished.

Reflect, today, upon the qualities of this woman’s prayer. Try to imitate her by first acknowledging the truth of Who Jesus is. He is the Messiah, the Son of David, the Savior of the World, God Incarnate and so much more. Calling Jesus’ true identity to mind is a wonderful way to begin to pray. From there, make your prayer simple, clear and humble. Don’t present your wants, present your needs. What do you need from the Savior of the World? Of course God knows what we need more than we do, but asking is an act of trust, so do so. Lastly, persevere. Do not get discouraged in prayer. Be fervent, relentless and unwavering. Humble yourself before the almighty power and mercy of God and do so without ceasing and God will always answer your prayer in accord with His holy will.

My Saving Lord, You are truly the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of God. You and You alone deserve all honor, glory and praise. As I come to know You as You are, please fill me with a deep trust and unwavering faith in You. May I persevere through all things and never cease to put all my hope in You. Jesus, I trust in You.

From the Catholic Daily Reflection of My Catholic Life