Woman you have great faith

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time


In the Old Testament, it was prophesied that when the Messiah comes, right worship, and right ordering of the meeting between God and humanity will once again be re-established. In ways unexpected, that prophecy was fulfilled in the very person of Christ. Jesus is the Temple, and the true meeting place of God and humanity. When He commanded us (‘Do this in memory of me….’) to celebrate the Eucharist He established. The Eucharistic celebration is the occasion for right worship, and right ordering of the meeting between God and humanity takes place. To appreciate this, one needs to delve into the constant teaching of the Church on the Eucharist, and writings and teachings of the Early Church Fathers.

In this Sunday’s readings, the coming of foreigners to the Temple in the first reading is taken up in the Gospel account (Matthew 15:21-28) of the coming of a Canaanite woman to Jesus. The Canaanite woman, was regarded as a ‘foreigner’ because she was of the pagan race. Although a pagan, she recognized Christ’s true identity – and she believed. Her faith in Jesus was expressed in the title ‘Lord’ with which she addressed Him. Our Lord tested her faith with a rather harsh parable: citing that the bread of salvation was only for God’s children, God’s chosen people, rather than for “pagan dogs”!. The woman’s quick response was a further expression of her great humility and faith, which Jesus publicly acknowledged: “Woman you have great faith”. Ironically the pagan woman gives us a model of faith; she knew she had no right to God’s gifts and mercy (v.27), and yet she asked Our Lord for them, not presumptuously, but with humility. We have much to learn from her, just as sometimes we can learn from others who may appear to have no faith.

God Bless Fr Michael

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