Homilies | Father Nathan

St Gabriel Catholic Church | Pompano Beach
God Bless You All

Father Nathan Homily | August 16, 2020

Father Nathan | Homily

 

Today’s Readings for Mass During the Day:

First ReadingIS 56:1, 6-7

Second Reading1 Kings 19:9A, 11-13

Responsorial PsalmPS 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8

 O God, let all the nations praise you!

Second ReadingROM 11:13-15, 29-32

Gospel ReadingMT 15:21-28

 
 

“Woman, great is your Faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”

 

In today’s gospel, we meet a pagan woman who had the most extraordinary faith in Jesus, a faith that was rewarded with the cure of her sick daughter.

The gospel story is a strange one, and yet it is one that all of us are familiar with. It involves an encounter with a beggar.

True, the Canaanite woman was not begging for money. But she was begging, begging for a favor. At one time or another, all of us have been approached by a beggar, either at our doorstep or on a public street. One wonders how Jesus would deal with these kinds of situations.

One day, it seems, a certain curious person in heaven asked St. Peter “How many Hindus are in heaven?” Peter replied: “No Hindus”. Then he asked: “How many Muslims?” “Not even one,” replied Peter. The man was surprised. He said: “Oh, then, there are only Christians in heaven?” “No, there are no Christians in heaven either,” replied Peter. “How Many Catholics?” “No, Catholics either.” Then St. Peter said, “Heaven is not meant for any particular group of people. Here, there is no distinction between Hindus, Muslims or Christians for all are welcome in Heaven.”

The significance of the miracle is extremely beautiful and universal: The Gospels describe only two miraculous healings Jesus performed for Gentiles:  the healing of the centurion’s servant (Mt 8:10-12) in Capernaum and the healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman which we hear today.

Healing of the Canaanite Women’s Daughter

The encounter with the Canaanite woman took place outside Jewish territory in Tyre and Sidon. The woman in today’s miracle belonged to the old Canaanite stock of the Syro-Phoenician race.  The Canaanites were the ancestral enemies of the Jews and were regarded as pagans and idolaters and, hence, as ritually unclean.  But this woman showed

“a gallant and an audacious love which grew until it worshipped at the feet of the Divine, an indomitable persistence springing from an unconquerable hope, a cheerfulness which would not be dismayed” (Fr. James Rowland). 

By granting the persistent request of the pagan woman, Jesus demonstrates that his mission is to break down the barriers and to remove the long-standing walls of division and mutual prejudice between the Jews and the Gentiles. God does not discriminate but welcomes all who believe in Him, who ask for His mercy and who try to do His will.

Jesus first ignores both the persistent cry of the woman and the impatience of his disciples to send the woman away. He then tries to awaken true Faith in the heart of this woman by an indirect refusal, telling her,

“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  But the woman is persistent in her request. She kneels before him and begs, “Lord, help me.”  Now Jesus makes a seemingly harsh statement, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

The term “dogs” was a derogatory Jewish word for the Gentiles. Dogs were regarded by the Jews as unclean, because they would eat anything given to them, including pork. The woman noticed, however, that Jesus had used the word kunariois–the word for household pets – rather than the ordinary Greek word for dogs – kuon.   She also observed that Jesus had used the word for dogs in a challenging way, urging her to answer in kind – a sort of test of the woman’s Faith.  So, she immediately matched wits with Jesus.

Her argument runs like this:  Pets are not outsiders but insiders.  They not only belong to the family but are part of the family. While they do not have a seat at the table, they enjoy intimacy at the family’s feet.  Hence, the woman replied:

“Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table!” (v. 27),

expressing her Faith that Jesus could and would heal her daughter.  Jesus was completely won over by the depth of her faith, her confidence, and her wit and responded delightedly,

“Woman, great is your Faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”

We notice that the woman was refused three times by Jesus before he granted her request; finally, at her the fourth attempt, Jesus rewarded her persistence, curing her daughter in answer to her plea. This Gospel episode is also an account of a woman who got more from the Kingdom of God than she had hoped for.

Have a Blessed Week,

Fr. Nathan

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Past Messages from Father Nathan

From The Desk Of Father Nathan | November 1, 2020

From The Desk Of Father Nathan | November 1, 2020

On November 2nd we are going to celebrate All Souls Day. This is a holy day set aside for honoring the dead. The day is primarily celebrated in the Catholic Church, but it is also celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as a few other denominations of Christianity.

read more
From The Desk Of Father Nathan | October 25, 2020

From The Desk Of Father Nathan | October 25, 2020

Every week as we profess our faith, we express… “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic
Church and THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS.” The author of this letter to the Hebrews wrote. “Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and the perfecter of faith.” (12.1-2)

read more
From The Desk Of Father Nathan | October 18, 2020

From The Desk Of Father Nathan | October 18, 2020

The Elections are quickly approaching. Our people have such a love for our nation – which is good. Let us love our nation. I have no other thought than
to say just this: “How blessed we are all, to live such a blessed country. God Bless America!

read more
From The Desk Of Father Nathan | October 11, 2020

From The Desk Of Father Nathan | October 11, 2020

The Elections are quickly approaching. Our people have such a love for our nation – which is good. Let us love our nation. I have no other thought than
to say just this: “How blessed we are all, to live such a blessed country. God Bless America!

read more