Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 31:1-7 + Matthew 15:21-28
“Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”
We are not God’s children by right. There is an infinite distance, naturally speaking, between us and God, between Heaven and Earth. That is why the woman in the gospel represents each one of us: she is a Gentile. Up to Jesus’ day, God had promised salvation only to the Jews. Gentiles were by definition outsiders.
Everything in our lives is a gift. This is the opposite side of the coin: on the one hand, we know that we do not deserve what we have in life. So then, we are called to give thanks to God constantly, and all of our acts of thankfulness are rooted in faith.
Faith itself is the greatest gift we have in life. Without faith, these acts of thanksgiving—culminating in the Holy Eucharist—make no sense. The worst cynic or atheist would be justified in being rude and hard-edged about life, if God did not exist. But we have to recognize that faith is a gift, which some people do not have during their earthly lives.
The faith that God wants from us is not passive; it’s active. God does not want from us the sort of faith that just says, “God is going to take care of everything, so I can sit back and coast.” This is not our Catholic understanding of faith. Faith is something active on our part. It demands constant prayer. It demands the sort of dialogue, the sort of banter, that we hear between Jesus and the Gentile woman. We might even say, God wants us to challenge Him in our prayer. In this, we have no better example than Saint Teresa of Jesus.