August 16, 2020 – 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“Being a Person of Faith with the Heart of a Dove and the Skin of a Rhinoceros to withstand and be firm in every trying situation of life!”

(Based on Is 56:1,6-7, Rom 11:13-15,29-32 and Mt 15:21-28 – 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time)

There lived a good woman, who was well-known among her circle for her simple faith and her great calm and composed attitude, in the midst of many trials.

Another woman, who came as her new neighbour, hearing of her, remarked: “I must go and see that woman, and learn the secret of her calm, happy life.”

She went, and, enquired of the woman: “Are you the woman with the great faith?”

“I don’t know,” was the answer, “I don’t know if I am the woman with the great faith…
… but I do know that I am the woman with a little faith in the Great God!”

The Gospel of the Day in a similar way, presents before us a beautiful incident of faith…
… of a woman, with a faith, in the Great God!

“You are beautiful… pleasant… delightful…
Your love is like honey… Your presence is charming!
You are wonderful in your splendour and spectacular in your majesty and glory!”

These are some of the endearing and appealing and fascinating words that we often address to our Beloved Lord.

This is the Jesus who is sweet, cuddly, lovable, adorable, amiable, agreeable and friendly!

We yearn for this Jesus.
We are happy with this Jesus.

We get settled, often for a sentimental faith.

We get fixated, often with a faith based on emotions and sweet words.

Perhaps, that’s how we also want our world to be – kind, caring, accommodating, considerate and gentle!

But we know…the reality is different.

The world that we wish is very often not the world that we experience.
The world that we aspire is often in contrast with the world that we come in contact with.

We like a peaceful world…
… but we often encounter a world with missiles and innocent lives snatched away!

We like an equal society…
… but we often meet a society which discriminates and victimizes people!

We like a just culture…
… but we often run into a culture which is corrupt and degrading and inhuman!

We like a respectful civilization…
… but we bump into a civilization which is debasing and merciless!

The world of our actual experience is very different from the world that we hope and desire for…

In this context, we need a Faith that can carry us through this tough life.

A faith based on mere sweet words, pious rituals and peripheral feelings doesn’t suffice…

A mere sentimental faith leaves us paralyzed and crippled with the hard-hitting realities of life!

We need a Faith that’s strong….
… a Faith that’s valiant
… a Faith that can battle life’s odds..

The Canaanite Woman in today’s Gospel Reading is a Person who possessed this Challenging and Brave Faith!

She is a big misfit in approaching Jesus and to be a bearer of Faith…

  1. She is a Canaanite: An unaccepted pagan… a denied heathen!
  2. She is a Woman: A degraded status… a humiliated class!
  3. She has a possessed child: A helpless situation…a miserable condition!

Yet she dares…
… to approach the Lord of the Universe: ” Lord, Son of David, have pity on me!!”

The First Reply from the Lord…?

SHHHH…. (the Word Perfect responds with a total hush…)

No answer from the Master…. the wait for the Woman increases…

It’s trying time!
It’s a testing moment!

The probably irritated-disciples seek to chase her away, disturbed by the shoutings and the wailings…

The Second Reply from the Lord…?

HMMM… I am sent not for her category…I am sent only for the Chosen Race…

Agony from the Master… the hopes of the woman diminishes…

It’s a grilling time!
It’s a gruelling moment!

Yet she dares… to approach once more…kneeling before the Throne of Mercy…” Sir, help me!!”

The Third Reply from the Lord…?

GRRR… Children’s bread is not thrown to the dogs…

More anguish from the Master… the expectations of the woman is crushed…

It’s a hard time!
It’s a harsh moment!

To hear being called a DOG…was humiliating and insulting and offensive…

Was this the height of rudeness??

But, the woman of Faith noticed that Jesus had used the word “kunariois” – the word for household pets…

She noticed that He had not used the word kuon – the word for other ordinary dogs…

Ah… there was the opening.. there was the possibility…there was the occasion…

A person of Deep Faith is able to wait patiently for a sparkle of sunshine even in the midst of the darkest clouds!

The Woman of Faith sneaked a chance in that seemingly degrading word…

The Woman of Faith found her prospect in that apparently disgusting expression…

She was a kunariois – a household pet…. She immediately matches her wit, with the wit of Jesus..

Pets are not outsiders… they are insiders;

Pets are not out of the family…they are part of the family…

Pets are not to have a seat at the Master’s table…
… but they enjoy an intimacy at the Master’s feet!

So she replies: “Yes Lord! But even the little dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table”

It was a moment of Truth!

The Fourth Reply from the Master…?

WOW! “Woman, how great is your faith!!”

The Woman of Faith had triumphed!

The Lord of the Universe marvelled at her faith!

The God of Healings blessed the Woman of Faith with heart’s desire!

We are reminded strongly that no one is outside the purview of God’s Mercy.

What is needed is a total trust in Him… following of His Commandments… and Living as He teaches!

Prophet Isaiah prophetically told us: “Foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the sabbath, and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant, these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer!” (Is 56:6-7)

St Paul reminds us: “Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy!” (Rom 11:30-31)

Life is definitely hard.

We are challenged however to have a harder and a stronger faith!

The Canaanite Woman, who is proclaimed, through all the churches today, is a shining model!

She, who was called a DOG….(!!)…is today praised and glorified by GOD…(!!)!

Sentimental Faith and Sugary Words are needed.

But it’s not enough!

We need to combine our Sweet Faith with a Tough Trust…
… our Pious Devotion with a Faithful Dedication!

Let us be a Person of Faith with the Heart of a Dove and the Skin of a Rhinoceros!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Let us be firm in our intentions, unwavering in our decisions.

Our very perseverance will prove that in good earnest desire, we have sacrificed ourselves to God…

… and committed ourselves to the devout life!”

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