Two great qualities of resilient faith: humility and compassion | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Aug. 16—20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28

The story of the Canaanite woman is an edifying story about the perseverance in and resilience of one’s faith. We see her being “let down” several times.

The first time was when she brought her daughter to the disciples, who failed to exorcise the demon. Yet this does not stop her. She brings her case to Jesus himself, calling out to him. Again she meets opposition, with the disciples asking Jesus to dismiss her.

Despite two “rejections,” she continues to call out to Jesus. This earns her Jesus’ attention. Her perseverance in faith gives her the grace of encountering Jesus.

This encounter brings her to a moment of choice, a test if you wish, that shows not only her perseverance in faith, but the resilience of her faith.

Jesus asks her a “practical question”—practical in the sense that it was the norm then: Why should she, an “outsider,” share in the bounty of the community of Jesus?

Scripture commentaries point out that the exchange with Jesus himself, with reference to the dogs eating the food of the children, was not carried out in an insulting manner, but was actually done in “affectionate jest,” given the words used in Greek that gave the idea of the tone and mood of the exchange.

The woman is not put off by this challenge, but digging deep into her core, where perseverance now swings into resilience, we see two great qualities of a resilient faith: humility and compassion.

Challenge

The woman accepts Jesus’ “challenge” with humility. “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”

We realize that this humility springs from her compassion, her love for her daughter that will make her do anything and go through anything as long as the demon is exorcised and she is restored to peace and good health.

Wow! Yes, wow! Even Jesus himself was awed by her response: “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”

This is the faith available to us, the graces of a persevering faith and a resilient faith. We see this faith, too, in Jesus.

In his three years of public ministry, we see him persevere to be faithful to the “how” of his mission. From his beatific vision in his baptism (“You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”), we see him persevering in how he is to live this out.

His perseverance was not only remaining faithful to the “what” and “why” of his mission, but to how he was to accomplish the mission. He constantly avoided being distracted by the success and popularity his ministry earned, and he also constantly withdrew to pray and be in solitude with his Father.

Mission

This leads him to the threshold of accomplishing his mission “on the night he was betrayed and entered willingly into his passion.”

It was in this privileged encounter with God in the Garden of Gethsemane, and hours later on the Cross, that we see the resilience of Jesus’ faith. His perseverance brings him to these moments.

“Father, if it is possible, take this cup away from me… not my will, but your will be done.” With humility he accepts and fulfills his mission.

The resilient faith comes from Jesus’ perfect compassion for us, and the compassion that is loving obedience to his Father’s will and mission, the Father who is perfect mercy and perfect compassion.

These graces of faith are available to us, perseverance and resilience—more so in this time of great suffering and the prevalence of evil acts and egos that further inflict greater suffering.

Not only must we persevere, but we must be resilient and make our choices with humility and compassion. Then and only then do these words really ring true in our heart and soul. In all that we pray, think and feel, say and do: we shall overcome. —CONTRIBUTED