Tuesday, August 16, 2011
20th Sunday Homily, August 14, 2011
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Imagine the state of this Canaanite woman’s heart and emotions as she approaches Jesus today. Her only daughter is afflicted, tormented by a demon. There is no help and no joy for her when her daughter is not well. She cries out to Jesus to save her but “Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.” How many of us can imagine ourselves in the same position? How many of us have been in the same position? “Jesus did not say a word in answer.”
More and more I am noticing that a great temptation in our own day is anxiety. We are consumed by anxiety. The chattering voices on tv and the internet proclaim that if such and such happens or so and so is elected we headed for DOOM! We are stirred up, over and over again into sorrow about the future. Not worry, not concern, not being spurred to concrete action but to give into sorrow over something that has not happened yet. Anxiety.
St. Thomas Aquinas calls anxiety “sorrow over a future pain.” Anxiety itself isn’t a sin, it is an emotion but it leads us to sin. When we claim that emotion as our own and give into anxiety we are led to distrust in God. We are led to unbelief. God cannot stop this impending doom. We are to have a faith that endures waves of anxiety and continues to trust in God. In fact, God wants your faith to be so strong as to endure all anxiety.
In the Gospel today, why does Jesus give her the cold shoulder? Why does gentle, caring, and merciful Jesus “not say a word in answer,” not even one word? So that her faith might have a chance to show stronger than her anxiety.
The Canaanite woman shows us strong faith. Strong faith is not removed from concern, worry, or emotions of sorrow. Strong faith endures against the very same concerns, worries and sorrows that experience everyday. The Canaanite woman shows us what God wants for each of us.
Does God not answer your prayers? Does God not seem to care? Have you been tempted to stop praying? Endure in faith!
When God does not answer your prayer, you stand in good company of saints in the past. I stand in your same company. The ways of God are mysterious but they lead to our salvation. When Jesus ignores the Canaanite woman, when Jesus is ignoring our pleading, he does so to build up our faith and our trust in him.
Every time the Holy Mass is prayed, your priest follows up the Our Father by praying: “Deliver us, Lord, from every evil and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy, keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.” Protect us, Jesus from anxiety so that our faith may endure and we may hear you say: “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
Cross posted at www.piusxiinewman.com.