Rise to the Challenge

Sunday, August 16th, 2020 |By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin

The Gospel reading from the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time comes from Matthew and reminds us to trust in the Lord even when it may appear that He is not answering our prayers.

God wants to lead us to the joys of heaven because it is His greatest desire is for us to spend eternity with Him. For that, we must be strong in faith and live our lives as an act of love and gratitude to Him. In other words, we must allow Him to transform us into saints. This is what the life of a Catholic Christian is meant to do. Sometimes, being a Christian and a Catholic may seem challenging and can even at times be painful physically and emotionally.

Jesus certainly challenged the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel passage from Matthew. She called out to Him on behalf of her suffering daughter, who was being tormented by a demon. What did Jesus do in reply to this mother’s desperate plea? Nothing. He “did not say a word in answer to her request.” Undeterred, the woman continued to call out to Him, yet He still did not give her what she asked for. Instead, He continued to challenge her faith. “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

And she rose to the challenge to such an impressive degree, that Jesus exclaimed, “O woman [a term of deep respect in that day], great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” Imagine hearing those words proclaimed over us by God. Truly there could be no higher honor than hearing our Lord say that about us.

We can likely expect that we will experience the difficulties that come with the life of a Catholic Christian. Some days may seem to be a true challenge to our trust in God. But those are the days when God is making saints out of us.

We are invited to joyfully embrace the suffering we encounter during difficult times. The deep joy that eventually comes, the eternal reward Jesus promises us, will be all the more worth it.