The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis,Book III Chapter XXXIV: “He Who Loves God Relishes Him above all Things and in all Things” (second entry)
Kempis ends this chapter with praise and hope. The disciple repeatedly acknowledges his sin, fallenness, and unworthiness, but just as often turns to God with trust in His goodness and mercy. Kempis tells us that we should be a beacon of the “wonderful works” we have been open to God performing in us and through us. There is “no hope nor refuge” but in the God who saves.
|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 15:21-28
This episode details the episode in which a pagan woman loudly calls out to Jesus begging for Him to exorcise her daughter. Jesus ignores her initially and the disciples even ask Him to send her packing as she must have been repeatedly shouting after their party to their annoyance. Jesus finally addresses her by saying He has come for the salvation of Israel, the Chosen People. She persists, asking Him to help her. Jesus again tells her that what He has to offer is not for the “dogs” (meaning persons like her). Undeterred, she utters the words in the headline, causing Jesus to remark on her great faith and telling her that her daughter is healed.
It is not difficult to imagine the Canaanite woman thinking thoughts similar to what Kempis conveys above. Desperate for the freeing of her daughter and likely hearing of this “miracle man,” whose reputation surely preceded Him, she is bound and determined to reach this healer and plead her case. In all humility she begs for her daughter’s life, despite several rebuffs. Even an apparent insult does not dissuade her, but actually brings forth a response that must have amazed Jesus. She was given the gift of faith and she did not squander it.
May it be that the same is said of us who have been blessed with much more than this poor woman. God’s “wonderful works” shone in her daughter’s recovery (what an early apostle to her townsfolk she must have been!). She found hope — maybe what she determined was her last hope — in Jesus. Again, this is what we must do. When it appears that have no safe harbor in this world, and when all hope in temporal things is despaired of, let us look to eternity and the Eternal One for “refuge.”