Persistence and Never Giving up in our Search for God

08-20-2017Weekly ReflectionFather Tony Okolo, CSSp

Today’s gospel presents us with the story of a Canaanite woman who seeks Jesus’ help for herdaughter who is under demonic influence. Jesus’ response and the woman’s faith challenge us onhow to respond when we seek God’s assistance in moment of need, trial and difficulty.

The first thing one sees is this woman’s love for her child who is sick of demonic influence. Her love for her child compels her to take the misery of her child as her own misery. The love she has for her child is a true reflection of God’s love for us, his children. God’s makes our own misery his own and takes our challenges upon himself. It is because of this love that made her suffer the rebuffs and insults from the hand of Jesus. It was love which made her accept the silence from Jesus without minding. It was love which made her approach Jesus even when she knew within her herself that she was not qualified being a non-Jew. So, we can say that love for her child was the driving force in her heart and there is nothing stronger than this deep love in her heart for her child.In this way, it is this love that our Lord Jesus has for us his children that made him suffer the agony of the cross and finally gave his life for us.

Secondly, the woman has the gift of indomitable persistence. She is a symbol and sign of faith, persistence and prayer. She comes to Jesus with strong faith that Jesus has power to deliver her child from the demonic influence. She neither questions nor doubts the ability of Jesus to deliver her child from the demon. She simply trusts in the divine authority of Jesus, three times calling him“Lord”. She will never be discouraged or give up. The woman came because Jesus was not just a possible helper, Jesus was her only hope. She came with passionate hope, a burning sense of need and a refusal to be discouraged. Prayer for her was no ritual form, it was the outpouring of the passionate desire of her soul, which somehow felt that she could not and must not take no for an answer. She shows perseverance in asking for Jesus’ help. Neither Jesus’ initial silence nor his attempts to decline the request lessened her tenacity in pursuing his assistance. She persisted until she attained what she sought. This is the attitude we are called upon to have in our approach of Jesus for our need, a strong faith that does not doubt the power of God in our lives. A persistent search that does not give up easily. Let us always trust the divine authority of Jesus for us.

Thirdly, this woman has the gift of cheerfulness. Even in the midst of trouble and misery she was passionately in earnest and yet she could smile. God loves the cheerful faith, the faith in whose eyes there is always the light of hope, the faith with a smile which can light the gloom. We are not to allow the vicissitudes of life challenges to take away the smile and cheerful heart in us.

Fourthly, the woman displays admirable humility. One might expect her to take offense at the comparison between non-Jews and house pets. But the reaction of the woman gives no indication that her pride has suffered any injury. Instead of being put off by the comment, she accepts that she has no claim on the God of Israel or his Messiah. The episode thus presents us with disposition essential to petitionary prayer. If we approach the Lord Jesus as the Canaanite woman, we too can hope for his favorable response: “Let it be done for you as you wish.”

Jesus places this woman’s life before our eyes for all time. As this woman loves her child and makes her daughter’s misery her own, so also Jesus takes our every misery and concern onto himself. Jesus wants us to look at the faith of this woman and know that with such strong faith can we win God’s favor on our side. In moment of trial and challenges let there be a smile in our heart that can lighten the gloomy situation we face.

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday filled with God’s blessings and mercies in your life and families.