NUMBERS 13: 1 – 2, 25 – 14: 1, 26 – 29, 34 – 35
In those days: The Lord said to Moses [in the wilderness of Paran], “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I give to the sons of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers shall you send a man, every one a leader among them.” At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us; it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Yet the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.” But Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once, and occupy it; for we are well able to over come it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.” So they brought to the sons of Israel an evil report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim); and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Then all the congregation raised a loud cry; and the people wept that night. And the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron, “How long shall this wicked congregation murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the sons of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say to them, ‘As I live, says the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness; of all your number, numbered from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for everyday a year, you shall bear your iniquity, forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ I, the Lord, have spoken; surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.”
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 106: 6 – 7ab, 13 – 14, 21 – 22, 23 (R.) 4a
R/. O Lord, remember us with the favour you show to your people.
Like our fathers, we have sinned.
We have done wrong; our deeds have been evil.
Our forebears, when they were in Egypt,
Did not grasp the meaning of your wonders. R/.
But they soon forgot his deeds,
and would not wait upon his counsel.
They yielded to their cravings in the desert,
And put God to the test in the wilderness. R/.
They forgot the God who was their saviour,
who had done such great things in Egypt,
such wonders in the land of Ham,
such marvels at the Red Sea. R/.
For this he said he would destroy them,
but Moses, the man he had chosen,
stood in the breach before him,
to turn back his anger from destruction. R/.
Luke 7: 16
A great prophet has arisen among us, and God has visited his people.
“O woman, great is your faith!”
MATTHEW 15: 21 – 28
At that time: Jesus went away and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Perseverance in Humble Faith
August 9, 2023
At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. (Matthew 15:21–23)
The district of Tyre and Sidon was non-Jewish territory. The people there were said to have been descendants of Cain, the son of Adam and Eve who killed his brother, Abel, and was banished. He and his descendants settled in the area of Tyre and Sidon and were not heirs to the faith given through Abraham, Moses and the prophets, making them Gentiles. Jesus and His disciples traveled about 40 miles by foot to this district from Galilee to flee Herod and the Pharisees who were seeking to kill Him. While there, Jesus intended to keep a low profile, but word of His presence spread, and this Canaanite woman came to Him to beg that He heal her daughter.
At first, it is surprising that Jesus remained silent. She came to Him with deep faith and trust, and He did not answer her at first. His disciples wanted her to stop bothering them, and Jesus Himself eventually responded to her stating that His mission during His public ministry was to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” meaning, to the Jews. Of course, later Jesus would expand His mission entrusted to the Apostles to include the Gentiles. But at first, Jesus’ mission was to the descendants of Abraham.
As we read this story today, it is clear that it was by God’s providence that this woman came to Jesus as she did. The Father drew her to Him, and Jesus participated in this discourse, not to be rude or dismissive but to allow her to manifest a faith that was clearly lacking in the lives of many.
In our lives, at times God seems silent. But if He is silent, we must know that it is for good reason. God never ignores us; rather, His silence is a way of drawing us even closer to Himself than if He were to be immediately “loud and clear,” so to speak. Silence from God is not necessarily a sign of His disfavor. It’s often a sign of His purifying action drawing us to a much fuller manifestation of our faith.
As for the Gentile woman, unlike many of the Jews, she manifested a faith in the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. This is evident by her calling Him “Son of David.” Her trust in Jesus’ ability to heal her daughter was expressed in very simple and clear words. She didn’t need to present herself as worthy of His help, because her trust in Him was all that was needed. Furthermore, she persevered in her prayer. First, Jesus is silent. Then, His disciples try to dismiss her. And then, Jesus gives the appearance of refusing her request. All of this results not in her discouragement but in perseverance and hope. And that hope was also extraordinarily humble. Jesus’ goal of allowing her to deepen her faith and manifesting it for all to see was accomplished.