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Liturgical day: Thursday 5th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (1Kgs 11:4-13): When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods, and his heart was not entirely with the Lord, his God, as the heart of his father David had been. By adoring Astarte, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the idol of the Ammonites, Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not follow him unreservedly as his father David had done. Solomon then built a high place to Chemosh, the idol of Moab, and to Molech, the idol of the Ammonites, on the hill opposite Jerusalem. He did the same for all his foreign wives who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.

The Lord, therefore, became angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice (for though the Lord had forbidden him this very act of following strange gods, Solomon had not obeyed him). So the Lord said to Solomon: «Since this is what you want, and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes which I enjoined on you, I will deprive you of the kingdom and give it to your servant. I will not do this during your lifetime, however, for the sake of your father David; it is your son whom I will deprive. Nor will I take away the whole kingdom. I will leave your son one tribe for the sake of my servant David and of Jerusalem, which I have chosen».
Responsorial Psalm: 105
R/. Remember us, o Lord, as you favor your people.
Blessed are they who observe what is right, who do always what is just. Remember us, o Lord, as you favor your people; visit us with your saving help.

But they mingled with the nations and learned their works. They served their idols, which became a snare for them.

They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons. And the Lord grew angry with his people, and abhorred his inheritance.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jas 1:21bc): Alleluia. Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Mk 7,24-30): Jesus went to the border of the Tyrian country. There He entered a house and did not want any­one to know He was there, but He could not remain hidden. A woman, whose small daughter had an evil spirit, heard of him and came and fell at his feet. Now this woman was a pagan, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. Jesus told her, «Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs». But she replied, «Sir, even the dogs un­der the table eat the crumbs from the children's bread». Then Jesus said to her, «You may go your way; because of such a reply the demon has gone out of your daughter». And when the wo­man went home, she found her child lying in bed and the demon gone.

«A woman, whose small daughter had an evil spirit, heard of him and came and fell at his feet»

Fr. Enric CASES i Martín
(Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we see the faith of a woman that did not belong to God's chosen people, but trusted Jesus could cure her daughter. That mother «was a pagan, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter» (Mk 7:26). Pain and love bring her to insistently beg, ignoring scorn, delays or indignities. And she gets what she is asking for, as she «went home, and she found her child lying in bed and the demon gone» (Mk 7:30).

Saint Augustine used to say that our prayers are not heard because we ask «aut mali, aut male, aut mala». “Mali”, because we are evil, for that our personal dispositions are not good, or they are bad, and we should be asking for, in the first place, to become good; “male” because we pray badly, without faith, not persevering, not humbly; “mala” because we ask for bad things, that is, things which are not good for us, things which can harm us. In the last analysis, prayer is ineffective when it is not true prayer. Therefore, «Pray. In what human venture could you have greater guarantee of success?» (Josemaria Escrivà). The Syrophenician woman is a good mother; she was begging something good («she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter») and she begged rightly («and came and fell at his feet»).

Our Lord wants us to use insistently the petition prayer or prayer of faith. There are, indeed, other kinds of prayers —worship, salvation, prayer of thanks—, but Jesus insists very much on our often using the petition prayer.

Why? Many could be the reasons: because we need God's help to attain our greatest aim; because it expresses hope and love; because it is a clamor of faith. But there is also a motive that, perhaps, is sometimes ignored: God wants things to be a little as we like them. Thus, our petition —which is an act of freedom— along with God's omnipotent power, can contribute to make the world as God wishes and a little as we wish, too. The power of prayer is just wonderful!