Thus says the LORD: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed. The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD, and becoming his servants - all who keep the sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
1) May God have pity on us and bless us; may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth; among all nations, your salvation. (Refrain:)
2) May the nations be glad and exult because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide. (Refrain:)
3) May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear him! (Refrain:)
Brothers and sisters: I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, "Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon."
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus' disciples came and asked him, "Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us."
He said in reply, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, "Lord, help me."
He said in reply, "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs."
She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters."
Then Jesus said to her in reply, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish."
And the woman's daughter was healed from that hour.
(Copyright 1970, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2001 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. Washington D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
Copyright 1970, 1997, 1998 Contraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
The English translation of some Psalm responses, some Alleluia and Gospel verses and the Lenten Gospel Acclamations, some Summaries, and the Titles and Conclusion of the Readings, from the Lectionary for Mass copyright 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc., Washington D.C. All rights reserved.
The poetic English translation of the sequences of the Roman Missal are taken from the Roman Missal approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States, copyright 1964 by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission of ICEL.)
- A man was going up to bed when his wife told him he’d left the light on in the garden shed. She could see it from the bedroom window. But he said that he hadn’t been in the shed that day. He looked out himself, and there were people in the shed, stealing things.
He rang the police, but they told him that no one was in his area to catch the thieves. He said “OK,” hung up, counted to 30 and rang the police again.
“Hello. I just called you a minute ago, because there were people in my shed. Well, you don’t have to worry about them now. I’ve just shot them all.”
Within five minutes there were half a dozen police cars in the area, an armed response unit. They caught the burglars red-handed.
One of the policemen said to this man, “I thought you said you’d shot them!”
He replied, “I thought you said there was no one available. 
Sometimes, all we want to do is to get someone’s attention. In today’s gospel passage, it seems like the Canaanite woman was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get our Lord’s attention!
As is always the case, I think some background information on this multi-layered text might be helpful in discerning some of the underlying layers of meaning. One commentator I consulted notes the following:
- When he sent the Twelve on mission, Jesus directed them to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" and urged them to steer clear of the Gentiles and Samaritans (Matt 10:5-6). Now Jesus himself heads in pagan direction, toward Tyre and Sidon, and is met by a pagan (Canaanite) woman from that region (v.21). Will he contradict himself? This would be a shameful reversal of his earlier honorable charge to the Twelve.
Always keep in mind the very public dimension of life in the Middle East. There is always a crowd on hand to watch, judge and decide whether to grant honor or impute shame. (Sounds a lot like it is today when it seems that everyone has a cell phone with a camera in their hands, doesn’t it?) The Canaanite woman uses the crowd to her advantage and hurls a challenge at Jesus...
Jesus is not obliged to answer the challenge. The woman is a pagan, he is an Israelite. They are not equals, and the honor game can only be played by equals. Following the honor code of his culture, Jesus ignores her.
The woman is not put off. She continues to follow the crowd and shriek after Jesus and his disciples (v. 23). Her behavior undoubtedly attracts an even larger crowd. The disciples urge Jesus to send her away...He continues to refuse by citing his commitment "only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
But the woman is not to be denied. She comes forward, kneels respectfully to honor Jesus, and again uses the honorific title, "Lord!' This time her plea is simple and moving: "Help me!' Jesus responds harshly and argues against throwing the children's food to dogs. This is an enormous insult to the woman. Gentiles were commonly referred to as dogs. Jesus apparently repeats his culture's stereotype. Calling a woman a dog is offensive in every language. Jesus has no qualms.
To everyone's amazement, including Jesus, the woman retorts with cleverness: "Lord [note the honorific title again], even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table" (v. 27). The woman proves she can give as good as she gets...She is the only person in the Gospels who proves to be a good match for Jesus' wit.
The fact is not lost on Jesus. He responds with the equivalent of "touché!" and grants her request. Her daughter is healed immediately. (2)
(For an alternate story about dogs, please go here.)
A mother will often go to any lengths necessary to help their children. Consider the following story. The author writes:
- Frank and Lee married in 1948 after serving in the Catholic church, he as a seminary student and she as a nun. When they started a family, Lee decided that she wanted six children. The first arrived in 1951, with five more following in the next 11 years. But by the time the fifth child, Tom, arrived, Lee was at the point where she wasn't sure she'd be able to care for another.
At six months, Tom still wasn't able to take spoon feedings or hold his head up. Lee felt that he was developing slowly in general. So she took him to the pediatrician, who told her that she was making a big deal over nothing.
"Lots of babies have trouble adjusting to spoon feedings,” he told her. "This is normal."
"I think I know what's normal and not normal," she told him evenly. "I've had four others. There's something wrong.”
So she took her baby to another doctor, who told her to wait a year to see if he would "grow out of it." So Lee waited—and watched.
Over the next year, Tom did manage to hold his head up, but in many other ways he got worse. He often refused to eat. Or he would eat only squash, until his skin turned an orange tinge. But the most worrisome development involved his violent outbursts. He would attack his older siblings while they watched television, or hit Lee from the back seat of the car while she tried to drive. Lee knew that temper tantrums are normal for a toddler, but the intensity of Tom's tantrums worried her.
When he was a year and a half, Lee made the rounds to the doctors and the specialists again. This time, no one told her Tom was normal. One doctor diagnosed PKU, a metabolic disease that can result in retardation. Another said it wasn't PKU, but brain damage at birth that had deprived the brain of oxygen. After a year, meeting this doctor and that doctor, Lee was told that Tom could never lead a normal life and should be institutionalized.
Lee was horrified. How could she send her child, only three years old, away to an institution, where the possibility of growing up healthy could be jeopardized forever? When Lee and Frank visited the institution the doctors suggested, all of the children she saw there were seriously mentally disabled, many unable to communicate. Tom had problems, Lee decided, but this was not the place to send him.
Then a visiting nurse told Lee about a hospital in Ann Arbor that might be able to help him. The doctors and psychiatrists there concluded that he was mentally disabled and would never be able to finish high school. A social worker at the hospital suggested that Frank and Lee would find it a problem to raise a son with such limited capabilities, since they both had been to college.
"He'll never be anything more than a ditch digger," she said.
"So?" she retorted. "Let me tell you something. I don't care what he does for a living. I love all of my children. I don't love them based on their intelligence. It doesn't make me love Tom any less if he's not a genius."
But Tom exceeded the doctors' expectations. Reluctantly, the doctors agreed to let Tom attend a regular school. Although he experienced periods of difficulty, he not only graduated from high school, but also completed two-and-a-half years of college. Somewhere along the way, his mental disability was found to be emotionally based and was treated properly.
I'm glad Lee didn't give up on that child, because that child with the rough start in life was me. Today I'm on medication to control my emotional ups and downs. And when I look back on my early years, I thank God I had a mother who was so stubborn that she wouldn't listen to the doctors' pessimistic predictions for my bleak future. My mother loved me enough to listen to what her heart told her instead—that the best weapon in a fight for a child is a lot of faith and a lot of love. (3)
I don’t know about you but it sounds to me like having a lot of faith and a lot of love is just what the Canaanite woman had! Persistence goes a long way. It was the same persistence that St. Monica had in praying for the conversion of her son Augustine (both of whose feasts we celebrate later this month). And her prayers were answered after thirty years of apparently fruitless results. Would that we would have the same persistence in our own prayers for ourselves or for others in need!
1. From Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here by Jerry Fuller, OMI. Available here.
2. Ordinary 20 by John Pilch from The Cultural World of Jesus, Year A, pp. 124-125. Copyright 1995 by the Order of St. Benedict, Collegeville, MN.
3. A Mother's Fight for a Special Child. Copyright 1996 by Tom Mulligan. Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul, copyright 1997 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Jennifer Read Hawthorne and Marci Shimoff. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL.
(Copyright 2014 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above. Permission is freely granted for oral use in whole or in part in local communities. For permission to use in written form, please contact the human intermediary at firstname.lastname@example.org )
In our Lord’s day, dogs were predominantly “the unclean scavengers of the street, savage and often diseased”. (1) However, in our own society, dogs are predominantly household pets and can often do wonderful things for us. Consider the following story. The author writes:
- The old farmhouse had been too big and too lonely since (my husband) Martin died. My daughter Jane lived in another town about fifty miles away. It wasn’t a great distance, but she was busy with a job and two young boys. I tried hard not to get upset when weeks went by without a visit from her. I knew she would come more often if she realized I needed her. I did need her. I needed to see her face, hear her voice, feel her hug, and spend a little time with someone who cared for me. But Jane didn’t know that...
One morning, while sweeping off the porch I saw a skinny little dog coming from behind the house. His tail and his head were lowered and he watched me with wary eyes as he slowly approached. If he hadn’t been so dirty he would have probably been white, but he was so caked with mud and brambles it was hard to tell. Sighing, I went into the kitchen to look for a scrap of food to feed the dog. I didn’t need a dog. I didn’t want a dog. But I couldn’t let him go hungry. I would feed him and then I would call animal control to come and get him.
I cut up a few slices of bologna and put them on a paper plate. Knowing that the dog was probably thirsty I filled a cereal bowl with water before going back outside. At the sound of the screen door scraping open, the dog lifted his head, a hopeful look in his chocolate eyes. I placed my meager offerings at the edge of the porch and watched him for a moment. He eyed the plate of bologna hungrily and lifted one paw as if to step forward, but he was afraid. I went back inside the house, knowing he would quickly devour the food once he felt safe.
When I went out to get the mail I saw that the dog was curled up on the rug on the porch in a deep sleep. He opened one eye and watched me, trying to decide whether he should run or not. “I won’t hurt you,” I murmured softly. “But I won’t let you stay here either.” He heard no threat in my voice, closed the one eye that had been fixed on me and was asleep again by the time I had taken three steps.
I shuffled through the mail, feeling certain that I would find a card from Jane. Saturday had been my birthday. Apparently she had been too busy to come by or call. I found no card from Jane.
I sat down in the rocker on my porch and started to cry. Suddenly I felt a rough tongue licking my cheeks. Startled, I looked into the upturned face of the dirty mutt, who had stretched as far as he could to reach my tears. His front paws rested on the arms of the rocker, and his expressive brown eyes seemed to be filled with understanding. He had such a sincere, concerned look on his little face that I found myself chuckling. I smiled down at him and patted his head. He gave a small whimper as if to tell me that he also needed a little love and affection.
I looked down at the malnourished dog, amazed that he had put aside his own suffering to offer me comfort. He had been on his own, alone, hungry and afraid. He had no way of knowing how I might react to his display of affection. He could have been shoved away and shouted at, but he gave me what he sensed that I needed. He was dirty and smelly, but at that moment he was the most beautiful dog I had ever seen.
I thought of Martin and how he always let me know that I was loved. He was affectionate and sweet natured every day of his life. I thought that Martin would be a good name for this warm, friendly dog. Martin and I have a strong bond. We both know we are loved, and the affection and camaraderie is appreciated by both of us. I am greeted warmly when I wake up every morning. I go for long walks again with Martin at my side. I read or watch TV in the evenings with him at my feet.
I have not shed a single tear in self-pity since Martin came into my life. I laugh every day. I am shown affection and love every day. I no longer peer out the window watching for the mailman, hoping for a letter or a card from Jane. I no longer stare at the phone trying by sheer willpower to make it ring and hear Jane’s voice when I pick it up. Oh, I still wish she would visit or call more often. But I am no longer consumed by it. Martin has put joy back into my heart again. I found a purpose to live in Martin. He has filled the lonely, sad voids in my life. And when he lays his head on my knees and gazes up at me in pure adoration, I know that he realizes I have done the same for him.
I never had a dog in my family when I was growing up but my wife had one and had had another one before him that had died. So it was natural that when we started a family, she wanted to have a small dog for the kids that they could get used to. And I guess someone along the line had advised her to get “a long, little doggie” because she got a wire-haired dachsund. Then we got a shepherd mix and now we have two: a terrier mix that we inherited after our son’s divorce and a golden doodle.
Based on all this history, I think I can state unequivocally that dogs love their masters unconditionally. Certainly, the Canaanite woman loved her daughter enough to go to great lengths to secure her healing. But her persistence finally paid off. It was the same persistence that St. Monica had in praying for the conversion of her son Augustine. And her prayers were answered after thirty years of apparently fruitless results. Would that we would have the same persistence in our own prayers for ourselves or for others in need!
As is normally the case when we try to discover how a passage of Scripture relates to us today, it would behoove us to learn some of the background facts of the events related in that passage which are taking place some two thousand years ago in a land far away and far removed from our own customs.
First of all, "it describes the only occasion when Jesus was ever outside of Jewish territory. For Jesus this was a time of deliberate withdrawal. The end was coming near; and he wished some time of quiet when he could prepare his disciples against the day of the Cross. There were things which he had to tell them and which he had to make sure that they understood completely before they happened.
"But there was no place in Palestine where he could be sure of privacy; wherever he went, the crowds would find him. So he went north through Galilee until he came to the land of Tyre and Sidon. There, at least for a time, he would be safe from the hostility of the Scribes and Pharisees (who, in verses 1 to 20 of this chapter, had attacked him for allowing his disciples to eat without washing their hands). It also removed all of them from the persistent pressure of the people, for no Jew would be likely to follow him into Gentile territory.
"But even in these foreign lands, Jesus was not to be free from the demands of human need. There was a Canaanite woman who had a daughter who was afflicted by a devil. She must have heard of the wonderful things which Jesus could do and she followed him and his disciples crying desperately for help. At first Jesus seemed to pay no attention to her, and to the disciples, the woman was a nuisance. All they wanted was to be rid of her as quickly as possible.
"But to Jesus there was a problem here. Although he must have been moved with compassion for the woman, she was a Gentile and, even worse, a Canaanite." (1) The Canaanites were the descendants of Ham, one of the three sons of Noah. Once, when Noah was drunk, he fell asleep on his bed naked. Ham went in and saw him naked. Scripture says that Ham and all his descendants were cursed and destined to be slaves because it was wrong for a son to see his father naked. In addition, God had commanded Joshua to annihilate the Canaanites and take over their land. So the Canaanites had no love lost for either the Jews or their God.
Nevertheless, in her first request, the woman addresses Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, which is amazing considering this background. She also requests mercy from him. Webster defines mercy as "compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it (e.g., 'he threw himself at the mercy of the court')". (This could well be a reference to the Jewish belief that illnesses, disease and other afflictions were the result of one's sins and therefore just punishment for them.)
Now in asking for mercy, the woman was almost commanding Jesus to honor her request. However, in her second request, she softened her language to "Lord, help me" and knelt before him, assuming the universal posture of prayer.
Finally, our Lord says that it is not fair to take the bread from children and throw it to the dogs. "To call a person a dog was a contemptuous insult. The Jews spoke with arrogant insolence about 'Gentile dogs', 'infidel dogs', and later 'Christian dogs'. In those days, the dogs were the unclean scavengers of the street, savage, often diseased." However, it should be noted that "it is the diminutive word for dogs (kunaria) which is used, and the kunaria were not the street dogs, but rather household pets, very different from the dogs who roamed the streets and probed in the refuse heaps." (1)
So what can be gleaned from this passage? First of all, the contrast between her "great faith" and Peter's "little faith" only a few verses earlier can hardly be accidental (you may recall that last week's gospel passage was the one where our Lord walked on the water towards the boat and Peter sets out to meet him until his faith weakens and he sinks into the water). In addition, in asking for mercy, the woman was doing so not for herself but for another person, namely, her daughter. In essence, "She had made the misery of her child her own. Although she was a pagan, in her heart there was that love for her child which is always the reflection of God's love for all of his children. It was love which made her approach this stranger; it was love which made her accept his silence and yet still appeal; it was love which made her suffer the apparent rebuffs; and it was love which made her able to see the compassion beyond and behind the words of Jesus. The driving force of this woman's heart was love; and there is nothing stronger and nothing nearer to God than that very thing.” (1)
Finally, in taking her daughter's affliction as her own, she was a harbinger of our Lord's own actions in taking our sins on himself.
So what does all of this mean for us? We all know that there is no love in life stronger than a mother's love for her child. Consider the following story. The author writes:
- Mornings were always hectic at our house. The boys would rush in from doing farm chores, scurry for breakfast, and hustle to shower in time to meet the 7:15 school bus. The morning after Mother's Day in 1973 was no exception. Thomas, fourteen, and Stephen, twelve, begged for a little more time so they could have bacon and eggs instead of cold cereal.
"We'll ride our bikes to school," they said.
Their thirteen-year-old sister, Diane, decided to ride with them instead of taking the bus. As they charged out door, Diane handed me a card.
"I forgot to give this to you yesterday. Mom. It's a Spiritual Bouquet. In the next few weeks I'll be saying lots of prayers for you." She gave me a quick kiss and was gone.
Minutes later Tommy called me from a neighbor's house yelling "Mom, Diane's dead! A car hit her!"
Dead! She couldn't be dead. It must be a mistake. I flew from the house to the barn and shrieked to my husband, "John, there's been an accident. We've got to go."
He grabbed his truck keys and as we headed down the road, I had an awful pain in my stomach. I knew in my heart that life would never be the same again.
When we arrived at the scene, all we could see was Diane's mangled bike and her shoes lying on the side of the road.
The paramedics were putting a stretcher into the ambulance. I screamed. John latched onto my arm as the EMT said, "Follow us to Mercy Hospital."
At the hospital the doctor pronounced our daughter DOA. I couldn't even cry.
The next few days were a nightmare. We contacted relatives and made the necessary arrangements. During calling hours we greeted relatives, friends, and people we didn't even know. They all came to give their condolences and to share our grief. The room filled with the children's classmates and teachers. They knelt in prayer beside Diane, tears streaming down their innocent faces.
I noticed an old man standing by the casket, his skin like worn out shoe leather. His wrinkled hands were raised in prayer. When I approached him, he looked at me and smiled. "God must love you very much," he said. "He gives the hardest task to those He loves the most. He gave you one of his angels to care for and now he needs her back."
I looked around the room at the children praying. A circle of light appeared above their heads. I looked back toward the old man but he was gone.
The parochial school Diane attended closed the day of the funeral to allow her classmates and fellow students to attend the service. They played their guitars and sang Diane's favorite songs.
I said a prayer of thanksgiving that I'd been blessed with faith. Without it, how could one endure the awful pain?
Almost forty years later, I still feel the pain of losing Diane. But as I read her Mother's Day card one more time, I am at peace, thanks to my angel's prayers. The card read:
- "When the altar bells are tinkling
And the priest bends down in prayer:
Where the people bow adoring
I'll be praying for you there." (2)
- "When the altar bells are tinkling
The Canaanite woman in our gospel passage persisted in her faith until our Lord could not refuse to answer her prayer to heal her daughter. In our story, a mother’s faith enabled her to endure the loss of her daughter and avoid despair...or worse. But we should also note that the actions of the Canaanite women were motivated by her love for her daughter.
So the questions for us become: how strong is our faith? How deep is our love for our loved ones? How persistent would we be in our prayers for them (like St. Monica was in her prayers for her son Augustine)? If our faith and love are strong enough, then we will be able to overcome all the trials and tribulations that life can throw at us.
1. From Daily Study Bible by William Barclay. Used with permission.
2. Mother's Day Angel. Copyright 1996 by Jeanne Converse. Reprinted with permission of the author and adapted from Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul, copyright 1997 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Janet Matthews and Raymond Aaron. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL.
(Copyright 2011 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above. Permission is freely granted for oral use in whole or in part in local communities. For permission to use in written form, please contact the human intermediary at email@example.com )
As one commentator points out, "the exchange between Jesus and the woman reverses the pattern usually found in such stories. Usually a situation or event provokes a hostile question from some onlooker to Jesus, to which Jesus responds with a correcting or reproving question and then drives home his point by a concluding statement which the opponent would be hard put to deny. In this story, however, it is Jesus who provides the hostile saying and the woman whose retort trips him up and corrects him. It is questionable that Matthew would agree that the woman "trips up" and "corrects" Jesus, whose gift of healing is not exacted from him but is granted by his sovereign grace. Yet the point is important, for the story does describe a reversal brought about by the woman's persistent faith.
(by Sharon Ringe from New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary, Abingdon Press, 2001.)
- During one of what seemed to be endless visits to the doctor, I asked him for the truth: "Is Kim going to die?"
"I can't answer that question," he said. "She has a good chance, if her body starts responding to treatment."
"If! If! That's all I've been hearing for 16 months. Kim has had these painful shots every two weeks since she was born. You can see how she screams and cries. And all you can tell me is, 'if'?" Understanding the stress and fear behind my outburst, the doctor did not take offense. "Her white blood cell count is the lowest it has ever been," he said gently, holding the lab report in his hand. "The gamma globulin shots have helped her to survive her bouts of illness, but her own body is not producing white blood cells in large enough quantities. I can't give you a miracle. Kim will either start producing enough white cells or she won't."
Tired and numb, I returned home. Hearing Kim stir in her crib, I tiptoed in to check on her. In a deep sleep, she sobbed softly as she painfully moved her legs. The shots would bother her for several days. Returning to the living room, I huddled on the couch. I drew my legs up and hid my face in my arms. I wanted to hide, to be safe. But again, at the thought of my baby's torment, anger and resentment stirred in my heart. I began pacing the living room. Raising my fists to heaven, I shook them in frustration.
"Where are you, God? Why are you so cold and silent? Lord, why are you giving me stone and not the bread that a loving father would give? Have you deserted me? Where is your promised peace and comfort?"
Silence was my answer. I felt mocked by God. My eyes fell on the Bible on my coffee table. A verse from Genesis 22 slipped into my mind, stunning me with its impact. I quickly opened my Bible to make sure that I had remembered it correctly. I had. The verse read, And God said, 'Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of.' I knew then, with absolute certainty, that God was asking for Kim. My mind was suddenly clear as never before, and I realized that I had been placing my love for my little girl above my love for God. I had been asking for my will. My will. Not God's. Not his sovereign choice. A clay pot had been railing at its maker, not falling in submission at his holy feet.
Realizing that I'd been trying to manipulate God, I saw that I'd been doing all the 'right things' so that he would be required to answer my pleadings. I had never really considered the possibility that he might actually ask for Kimmie. "Surely, sweet Jesus, you're not asking this of me? Not my baby's life. How easy for you to heal her. Just a touch. Oh, my Lord and my God, not this!"
Even as I spoke, though, I knew the answer. Only total submission to God's sovereign will would do. In my breaking heart, I built an altar. Upon this altar I placed my only, beloved child as truly and sacrificially as Abraham had ever placed Isaac on the altar of Moriah.
"Oh, my Lord, I place my trust in you. If you are going to take my baby, take her. I can't fight you any longer. Forgive me, Lord, for my lack of trust and obedience. I don't understand why you are asking for my little girl, but I do love and trust you. Help me in the time ahead."
A profound peace filled me. The battle was over. The victory won. I let go of all the anger and fear that I'd been living with for so many months. I would rest in the perfect will of God for my life.
Six weeks later, Kim and I were at Dr. Rubinstein's office again. Kim had not been ill during all that time. She sat up bright and alert in my arms, radiant with health. "I've never seen anything like this," he said with a puzzled look on his face. "Kim's white blood cell count is absolutely normal. This is impossible. It couldn't have changed so quickly."
But it had. And in my heart I knew why. As Isaac had been returned to Abraham, so had my little girl been given back to me. My Lord was the Great Physician and a Father to be trusted.
Place of Sacrifice. Copyright 1996 by Teresa Anne Arries. Reprinted with permission of the author and adapted from Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul, pp. 200-204, copyright 1997 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery and Nancy Mitchell. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. The author's full story, including a discussion of her relationship with her father, can be found elsewhere on this page (see Place of Sacrifice. (This resource, as well as many others including a specially-priced package of the Chicken Soup books, is available at a discount through the Homiletic Resource Center.)
Lord Jesus, you heal the sick. Lord, have mercy.
Christ Jesus, you show mercy to sinners. Christ, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, you break down the barriers of division and welcome all who come to you in faith. Lord, have mercy.
Celebrant: Christ heard the plea of the Canaanite woman in her need and answered her prayer. Therefore, confident that he will intercede for us in our need, we bring our prayers and petitions to the Father.
Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, strengthen our faith".
That the leaders of the Church will help to make their Church communities into houses of prayer which welcome all peoples, we pray to the Lord.
That the leaders of the nations of the world will do all in their power to break down the barriers of division, we pray to the Lord.
That the sick, the terminally ill and those who are grieving the loss of a loved one will find comfort in their faith during their time of trial, we pray to the Lord.
That the members of our parish community will help to heal the divisions and wounds caused by prejudice and injustice, we pray to the Lord.
That all of those who are on vacation may return refreshed in mind and body and renewed in spirit, we pray to the Lord.
That the Lord will soften the hearts of all those who are filled with hate into hearts full of love for others, we pray to the Lord.
That all of our brothers and sisters will be treated as our equals in the site of God regardless of their race, color, nationality or religion, we pray to the Lord.
That all of those who have contracted the Corona virus will be healed, that those who have died will be welcomed into the loving arms of their Savior who suffered for them and that their grieving families will find strength in their faith, we pray to the Lord.
For all of the intentions we hold in our hearts and which we now recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord.
Celebrant: Heavenly Father, your Son welcomed everyone who came to him in faith. Grant us the grace of your Spirit to welcome others as we would welcome Christ himself. And we ask this through Christ, our Lord.