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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Num 13:1-2.25—14:1.26-30.34-35): The Lord said to Moses [in the desert of Paran], «Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan, which I am giving the children of Israel. You shall send one man from each ancestral tribe, all of them princes». After reconnoitering the land for forty days they returned, met Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation of the children of Israel in the desert of Paran at Kadesh, made a report to them all, and showed the fruit of the country to the whole congregation. They told Moses: «We went into the land to which you sent us. It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit. However, the people who are living in the land are fierce, and the towns are fortified and very strong. Besides, we saw descendants of the Anakim there. Amalekites live in the region of the Negeb; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites dwell in the highlands, and Canaanites along the seacoast and the banks of the Jordan».

Caleb, however, to quiet the people toward Moses, said, «We ought to go up and seize the land, for we can certainly do so». But the men who had gone up with him said, «We cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us». So they spread discouraging reports among the children of Israel about the land they had scouted, saying, «The land that we explored is a country that consumes its inhabitants. And all the people we saw there are huge, veritable giants (the Anakim were a race of giants); we felt like mere grasshoppers, and so we must have seemed to them». At this, the whole community broke out with loud cries, and even in the night the people wailed.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: «How long will this wicked assembly grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the children of Israel against me. Tell them: By my life, says the Lord, I will do to you just what I have heard you say. Here in the desert shall your dead bodies fall. Forty days you spent in scouting the land; forty years shall you suffer for your crimes: one year for each day. Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me. I, the Lord, have sworn to do this to all this wicked assembly that conspired against me: here in the desert they shall die to the last man».
Responsorial Psalm: 105
R/. Remember us, o Lord, as you favor your people.
We have sinned, we and our fathers; we have committed crimes; we have done wrong. Our fathers in Egypt considered not your wonders.

But soon they forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel. They gave way to craving in the desert and tempted God in the wilderness.

They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt, wondrous deeds in the land of Ham, terrible things at the Red Sea.

Then he spoke of exterminating them, but Moses, his chosen one, withstood him in the breach to turn back his destructive wrath.
Versicle before the Gospel (Lk 7:16): Alleluia. A great prophet has arisen in our midst and God has visited his people. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 15,21-28): Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Now a Canaanite woman came from those borders and began to cry out, «Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon». But Jesus did not answer her, not even a word. So his disciples approached him and said, «Send her away: see how she is shouting after us». Then Jesus said to her, «I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel».

But the woman was already kneeling before Jesus and said, «Sir, help me!». Jesus answered, «It is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to the little dogs». The woman replied, «It is true, sir, but even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master's table». Then Jesus said, «Woman, how great is your faith! Let it be as you wish». And her daughter was healed at that moment.

«Woman, how great is your faith!»

Fr. Jordi CASTELLET i Sala (Sant Hipòlit de Voltregà, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we often hear the expression “faith has been lost”, and the same people who ask our communities the baptism of their children or the catechesis for their infants or the sacrament of marriage, say it. These words depict the world in a negative way while trying to convince us bygone times were better and that we are now at the end of an stage where there is nothing left for us to say or to do. Evidently, these are basically young people who, in its majority, watch rather sadly how the world has changed from their parents' times, who used to live perhaps a more popular faith, which they have not known how to adapt to. This experience leaves them unsatisfied and without any capacity of reaction when, in fact, they might find themselves at the gates of a new stage they could very well take advantage of.

This passage of the Gospel draws the attention to that Canaanite mother that demands grace for her daughter by recognizing in Jesus the Son of David: «Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon» (Mt 15:22). The Master is surprised: «Woman, how great is your faith!” and He can do nothing but to act in favour of those persons: «Let it be as you wish» (Mt 15:28), although this does not seem to fall within his schedule. However, God's grace is manifested in human realities.

Faith is not a privilege of a few, nor is it the property of those who thing they are so good or of those who have ever been good, and have this social or ecclesial label. God's action precedes any Church's action and the Holy Spirit is already acting upon persons we would have never suspected could bring us a message from God, a request in favour of the needy. St. Leo says: «My beloved, the virtue and wisdom of Christian faith are our love of God and of our neighbour: it does not miss any obligation to any pious works procuring to render God worship due to him and to help our brethren».