August 16, 2020 – Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Gospel reading, we saw the encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite woman.  The woman was a pagan whose daughter was tormented by the devil.  Jesus literally derided her, telling her that it will be wrong to give the children’s food to dogs.  The Canaanite woman stood her ground and remained focused on her goal, which was to get our Lord to cure her daughter.  In her action, we saw the true meaning of the faith which Jesus praised.

Dearest sisters and brothers, reflecting on this encounter between the woman and Jesus, one thing that stood out is the woman’s tenacity.  The way she was ready to suffer whatever insult that is thrown at her so long as she gets what she needs from Jesus.  This is what faith is all about.  It is being able to endure whatever trials and difficulties that come our way.  It is holding on at the end of the rope and not giving up, as many people do today, after their first trial, knowing that the Lord will rescue us from whatever difficulty we are in.

Again, one can learn from the woman’s response to Jesus, an ability to acknowledge one’s position before God.  When Jesus tells her literally about being a dog, she did not get mad and bolt out in anger at such a terrible remark.  She rather was able to accept even being called that.  Faith therefore is also acknowledging our lowly positions before God knowing that before him we are nothing.  Our acknowledgment of our nothingness before God is very important today where many people do not want to be creatures, but rather the creator. It is only when we accept in humility our nothingness before God that he fills us with his life.  And it is only when we are filled with God’s grace and life that we will be able to “observe what is right” and “do what is just” as Prophet Isaiah admonishes in the first reading.

If we have faith, we will also be able to cross whatever boundary and obstacle that is preventing us from reaching out to others, whether obstacles of race, ethnic divisions, culture, language, sex, social status, and so on.  The Canaanite woman was a pagan whose need and faith made her not see Jesus as a stranger, who he was at that time.  Through faith, we shall be able also to accept everyone without discrimination.