By Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
On Sunday Pope Francis focused his words before reciting the Angelus on the day’s Gospel. He highlighted the faith of the Canaanite woman who sought healing for her daughter and showed that humble faith has no bounds.
Cry of suffering
While Jesus is in foreign territory to the north of Galilee a Canaanite woman approached him begging Him to heal her daughter. “Have mercy on me, Lord” is the cry from a mother who feels helpless, a “cry that is born out of a life marked by suffering”, Pope Francis said.
The mother insists, even though “Jesus initially ignores her,” and even after Jesus says His mission "is directed only to ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’." At that point, Pope Francis said, Jesus “puts her to the test, citing a proverb: It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs”.
Her response, said the Pope, shows that the woman senses the Most High God present in Jesus: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” That trust-filled wisdom “touches the Master’s heart,” provoking Him to admire her faith with the words “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish” (v. 28).
Pope Francis then reflected on “What type of faith is great.” Our faith is great when we bring our wounded past to Jesus’s feet, “asking Him to heal it, to give it meaning.”
Bringing our story to the Lord
Each one of us, the Pope continues, has our own story, a story that is often difficult, filled with pain, misfortunes, and sins. “What do I do with my story,” he asked. “Do I hide it?” No, the Pope said. Instead, “We must bring it to the Lord,” with the prayer, “Lord, if You will it, You can heal me.”
This is what the woman in Sunday’s Gospel teaches us, the Pope said, inviting everyone to consider their own life-story and to make the Canaanite woman’s prayer their own. “Let us go to Jesus, knock on Jesus’s heart, and say to Him, ‘Lord, if You will it, You can heal me’.”
Jesus loves us as we are
We will be able to do this, the Pope continued, “if we always have the face of Jesus before us.” Pope Francis insisted that Jesus loves us “as we are, without make-up,” with a love and compassion “that bears our sins, our mistakes, and our failures.”
Finding Jesus in the Gospels
The Holy Father once again invited everyone to carry a copy of the Gospels with them, in their pockets or purses, or even on their phone – because it is there, in the Gospels, “that you will find Jesus as He is, as He presents Himself… You will find Jesus who loves us, who loves us a lot, who tremendously wants our well-being.”
Pope Francis concluded his reflection with the prayer that the Blessed Virgin Mary “might intercede with her prayer so that the joy of faith and the desire to communicate it with the witness of a consistent life might grow in every baptized person,” and that we might be given the courage to draw near to Jesus and pray, “Lord, if You will it, You can heal me.”