The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXX: “Of Asking the Divine Assistance, and of Confidence of Receiving Grace” (third entry)
Here, Jesus speaks of temptations that afflict, fears that frighten, and worries about what the future may bring. True faith is manifested in patience and courage bringing consolation. I am reminded of the Scripture, “Fear is useless; what is needed is trust” (Lk 8:50, Mk 5:36).
|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 15:21-28
The Gentile woman who seeks out Jesus to exorcise her daughter is the moving tale we are graced with today. Jesus travels to her region where news of His wondrous deeds apparently preceded Him. She begs Him for help and He ignores her. She does not give up, annoying the disciples to the point that they ask Jesus to send her away. She persists, with Jesus finally responding to her, but only to say that He has come for Israelites only, calling her like “dogs.” Yet still she persists, and Jesus credits her faith, telling her that she has received what she wished for her daughter.
In addition to patience and courage, the Canaanite woman exhibited the quality that Kempis has emphasized most throughout his book: humility. True, she would not give up, and certainly she was bold in her initial request and persistence, but in the end it was her meekness that won over Jesus. We should long to hear addressed to us the words the Lord spoke to the woman: “great is your faith.” Also, we should be reminded of another Gentile, made famous in the Gospels, the centurion seeking healing for his son/servant: “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith” (Mt 8:10). It is worth contemplating that two of Christ’s most adamant declarations of faith are to outsiders and “sinners” (as the Pharisees would have it). No persons (including us) are beyond the reach of God, regardless of their origin, status, or past deeds. We would do well to not only imitate this woman and the centurion, but to remember — and pray for — all
[t]hose who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – [since] those too may achieve eternal salvation. (Lumen Gentium 16 as cited in CCC 847)
Let us pray that “consolation will come…in due season” for mankind as all are prompted to turn to the one and only Savior of the world.