20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 20, 2017)

In today’s Gospel we experience the Canaanite woman’s deep faith in Jesus. St. Francis de Sales expands on her confident and persevering response of faith in Jesus.

If God gives us no indication of hearing our prayers or of promptly answering them, we lose courage. We cannot persevere in prayer. We quit it completely, then and there. This is not the case with the Canaanite woman. Our Lord at first was paying no attention to her prayer. Since He did not respond to her, He seemed to do her an injustice. Nonetheless, the woman persevered in crying out after Him, even after the apostles told Him to send her away.

She had great confidence when she made her request amidst squalls and tempests that ordinarily shake one’s certainty. Like the Canaanite woman we ought to have firm confidence in Our Savior’s power and will, particularly in tribulations. Will God, who makes houses for the snails and turtles, not have care and mercy for you, a child of God? Such confidence always accompanies attentive faith.

Attentive faith is what the Canaanite woman had. She stood among Jesus’ listeners, carefully observing Him. Her faith was great, not only because she was so attentive to what she had heard spoken about Him. But she also decided to believe what others said of Him. We make our faith in God livelier by reflecting attentively on the mysteries of our Savior. These reflections make our heart desire the innumerable virtues of Jesus.

Perseverance is a virtue that flows from a faith attentive to the mysteries that Scripture and Tradition teach us. Our happiness is grounded on perseverance. If Our Lord seems not to hear us, it is to compel us to cry out louder and to draw us closer to God who gives us our power to persevere. Courage then! Like the Canaanite woman, let us walk faithfully with confidence in the way of our Savior and we will eternally be happy.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially Sermons, ed. L. Fiorelli).