Wednesday, 3 August 2016 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard again yet another message of hope, telling us that God does not forget His people, His beloved ones. He would gather them back to the loving embrace of His presence, and He will not let them to be lost again. And all these was told in our first reading taken from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, in the context that the old kingdoms of Israel and Judah had been destroyed and the people of God had been cast into exile.

In such a situation, indeed it would be very easy for someone to despair and to lose hope. But God reminded His people that no matter what, even though they were the ones who had first been disloyal and disobedient to Him, He is always loyal and will not abandon His people, unless they were the ones who continued to defy Him and continued to resist Him and refused to accept His love and grace.

God also tested the faith of the Canaanite woman in the Gospel today, as Jesus apparently refused to heal the daughter of the woman, who was beset by evil spirits. It may seem how adamant and heartless Jesus was when He rejected the woman’s begging and pleas for Him to heal her daughter, even to the point of pointing out that it was not right to let the dogs eat up the food from the master’s table.

But what Jesus was doing, in fact was to point out how the society of the Jews worked at that time. There was a very explicit form of prejudice against those non-Jewish people, who were considered by the Jews as those who were not deserving of God’s love and salvation. They considered themselves as the chosen people and the chosen race because their father was Abraham, and they felt that entitlement because of their descent from the father of many nations.

And thus, they thought of themselves as deserving of God’s many graces and blessings, while all the other people were not deserving, like that of a dog who should not be given even the scraps of food from the master’s table. But the woman did not give up, even when she was told off in the same manner as all the prejudices of the Jews had done to her and her people.

In her humility, and in the faith which she had for the Lord, she humbled herself and lowered herself, that upon the trust which she has in the Lord, she believed that no matter what, her faith in Him would not be shaken. And her faith and begging was such that, the Lord was moved to see such a great piety, one which was no longer present in the heart of the many Jews at the time, even those who followed Him.

And that is an important lesson for all of us. How is our faith in God like? Is it a faith similar to that of the woman? Or is it shaky and weak, easily shaken by worldly temptations and desires? Faith is not just merely proclaiming by words that we believe in God and doing what the Church is asking us to do alone. Faith means that we should put forth all our trust in God, and in our best abilities, try to implement what we have learnt from God in our own actions everyday.

And that means, all of us should seek the Lord, His mercy and forgiveness, by showing mercy and love ourselves. We should not be prejudiced or be biased against our brethren, or think that we are in any way better than them simply because we have been saved. Remember that once we were also still lost in the darkness of the world. Rather, all of mankind are brothers and sisters in the same Lord our God, and it is imperative that as many souls as possible should be saved.

In the end, we have to realise that our roles in the salvation of mankind is important, since it is through our commitment and hard work that the salvation which God had offered us mankind will persist in this world, and it is through us that God often performed His miracles of mercy and wonder. May God then help us to realise this potential in us, and may we grow ever more dedicated to help one another in finding our way to the Lord, our loving God. God bless us all. Amen.

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