daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer
Homily of Thursday, 5th Week of the Year, February 12, 2009
Gen 2:18-25; Ps 127; Mk 7:24-30

"And he said to her, Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs. But she answered him, Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs" (Mk 7:27-28).

Today a pagan woman asks Jesus to cast a demon out of her daughter. At first Jesus refuses, saying in effect that his mission is only to the children of Israel (Mt 15:24). But this woman's humility won him over; and in the end he consented, saying, "For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter" (Mk 7:29). Her saying was that she admitted that she was like a dog under the table begging for scraps. This is the kind of humility that gained her her petition.

Does not God at times treat us like this, seemingly putting us off, at least for a while, seemingly refusing our petition, testing us? He can call us to live in a certain way, for example, and yet for a time we can see only obstacles in our way, and we do not see how we will be able to live as he is calling us to live. Other people do not understand us, or do not agree with us, or superiors do not permit us to do what we believe God to be calling us to do. And when we pray about it, even God seems to remain silent.

What then should we do? This woman's example, I think, can help us here. She had both perseverance and humility. We should continue to believe in God's call, and continue to be faithful in trying to live as he is calling us to live. We need the perseverance of this woman, and we need to imitate her humility and the depth of her faith in our prayer. For having compared herself to a dog under the table, Jesus at last grants her request.

If our call is truly from God, he will give us all that he knows we need to be able to realize the call which he himself has given us. He will not give us a call without also giving us a way of realizing it. We need to believe this. We are not to lose hope; but rather to remain faithful to our call, as well as humble in our prayers for help, always persevering in living according to our call-as best we can-and always believing in the promise God has given us, as Abraham did. Abraham believed that he would have a son by his wife Sarah, and that through him he would become the father of many nations. He lived by this promise. He was a man of the promise, a man of hope and of faith. And God guided and protected him throughout his life; and the promise was fulfilled.

So ought we also to live, faithful to God's promise and call, especially when we do not see how it can be realized, and when it seems that even God is not listening to our prayers. Yet if we keep our faith alive and persevere in our petitions in all humility, like this woman, and if we continue living as God is calling us to live, at the proper time he will give us all that we need to realize the call which he himself has given us. He simply tests our perseverance, as he tested Abraham, and as he tested this woman.




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