Homily - Feast of the Asssumption
Yesterday, we celebrated the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into the glory of Heaven. It is a beautiful reminder that we are all on the journey to eternal life. Mary can companion us on that journey.
In the Matthean gospel passage which we just heard we see Jesus jousting with a courageous woman in an area which we know today as Lebanon. This non-Jewish woman is pleading with Jesus for her sick daughter.
The scene is fascinating. Jesus is outside Jewish territory on the Mediterranean coast when He meets this courageous woman. When a child is ill, all that a mother wants is for the child to be better. In her helplessness, this Canaanite woman turns to Jesus.
Jesus’ first response is silence. Initially, this seems to be out of character for Jesus – in the Gospels He is so often seen healing and showing compassion. In fact, He seems to give a rebuff to the poor woman. His response was “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel”. This woman does not give up – she persists in pleading … not for herself but for her daughter. Her tenacious faith kept hanging on to hope that Jesus would have mercy and help her. And, He did!
There is a powerful lesson here for us. It is one of the most striking episodes of inclusiveness in the Gospel tradition. This woman shows us the importance of persevering in prayer. What a great model of faith the woman is! Sometimes when we are just barely hanging on, when all seems too hard or that we seem to be knocking our head against a brick wall -faith in Jesus will not fail.
So as we bring our needs before the Lord in this Mass pray for the gift of perseverance in honest, heart-to heart dialogue with the Lord for ourselves and those who are dear to us.