Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Mt 15:21-28 Having the Faith of Children, Not Dogs

Mt 15: 21-28 Having the Faith of Children, Not Dogs
By Benedict Augustine

“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”

Many kind-hearted people wince at this episode where Jesus challenges a woman in need of His help. Unlike other instances where Jesus gladly cures and forgives others, He holds back for this particular woman, not because she is rude or sinful, but because she isn’t a Jew. He first states that the scope of His mission only concerns the House of Israel, not those who reside outside that house. When she pleads further, He then compares her to a dog, probably one of the most severe terms of abuse recorded in the gospel.

Some might feel relieved that Jesus relents and heals her daughter, yet one might still wonder why Jesus said those things in the first place if He intended to heal the woman anyway. It seems like he’s making fun of her and even desires to humiliate her before doing anything. If that’s the case, Jesus is being far from magnanimous; he’s being rather petty.

The key to understanding this event are Jesus’ final words, “O Woman, great is your faith!” As with many of His miracles, He hopes to use this one to teach a lesson; in this case, the lesson is the true nature of faith. Notice that He does not reward the woman for her wit in taking His analogy and working it in her favor—even if many Christians afterward will chuckle at her chutzpah—but for her persistence and humility. He questions her rather sharply, and sheresponds with proportionate trust in Him. 

Faith means more than mere belief. It signifies a deep trust, making it much more complex idea.Trust is active: one does not simply trust another person only to ignore them later; they usually trusthim to do something. Trust also implies dependence since one who trusts depends on the fact that the other is true and that he cares. Consequently, the active dependence brought about by faith humbles the person who has it. A person who has real faith in Jesus must admit: I trust that You are the Son of God. I trust that You will help me. I trust in Your love, and I know that I am not enough without it.

Imagine if that woman approached Jesus with the typical sense of entitlement felt by people today. In a good skeptical fashion, she could have demanded, “Prove to me that you are who you say you are. Cure my daughter!” Or, she could have retorted to Jesus’ words about feeding the children, not the dogs: “How dare you! I deserve more respect than that. I will go consult the oracles at Delphi. At least they won’t compare me to a dog.” In either of these scenarios, the woman does not have faith, but contempt, and only wants to use Jesus—and by extension, use her daughter as a means of testingHim. Additionally, she remains proud and unchanged, and her daughter would remain possessed.

Rather than enabling His people, God wants their faith, their trust. He has something immensely important to give, His love, and He will not force them to take it, nor will he let them snatch it ungratefully like dogs or pigs. If people complain to God, either doubting His love or feeling entitled to it, they rightly incur His punishment. Gratitude, humility, faith, and love are the ways to respond, like the Samaritan woman and not like the craven Israelites who fear the men more than they fear God Who had saved (and punished) them so many times.

God’s unhappiness with people’s faithlessness offers another lesson, a lesson that’s constantly overlooked by people of faith: Don’t feed people’s egos by coddling their lack of faith. Many people, believers and nonbelievers alike, bring their complaints to the Church, often calling for change in everything but themselves. They callously blame God, the Church, and Christians for all their ills, and then demand respect and welcome in return.

In their misguided attempts to share the gospel, many Christians are completely willing to agree and comply with these angry people, hoping to open “dialogues” and “adapt with the times.” They refrain from criticism, praise their “honesty,” and foolishly invite these people to church with them on Sunday. These people might support abortion and organ harvesting, might equate Christianity with bigotry, and might care more about one unfortunate lion illegally hunted than thousands of innocenthuman beings being crucified and sold into slavery.

Is that what Jesus would do, or His Father? The former would denounce such hypocrisy and make sure no one follows their false teachings, and the latter would send a host of horrible things (plague, pillagers, earthquakes, or, as shown in the readings yesterday, sudden leprosy). They would save those who desired saving, and wait for the rest to repent.

Disciples must approach Christ and His Church as children, not dogs. He does not want blind faith or complacent doubting. He wants virtuous obedience and love. When He says that the children must be fed, that means tending to the faithful first.

As Mother Teresa says, “Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put into that action.” Instead reaching out to those outside the Church, those who spurn our invitations, we should nourish those inside the Church who seriously need it. Only then will others start changing their attitude and approach the Church, Christ’s Body, as the Canaanite woman approached Jesus with her daughter.


  1. I find this post to be a bit curious. First off, who is Benedict Augustine? Don't we believe in a merciful God? Doesn't every human being on earth doubt God's love at some point? Doesn't Pope Francis ask us to lead people to Christ and have Him change their hearts? Since when do we put ourselves first and shun those who do not understand the truth? Isn't charity the greatest virtue, especially to those to hate us?

    1. This is a typical mistake in the understanding of mercy and charity. Mercy does not mean removing punishment for everyone, but only for those who repent; charity does not mean overlooking someone's faults (enabling), but helping them remove their faults (loving).

      Thus, two things are required in order to lead people to Christ: repentance, and willingness to change. The Canaanite woman exhibited these two traits while the Pharisees did not. Jesus does not shun the latter, nor should anyone today. Rather, He rebukes them in hopes that they change. However, He spends much more of time tending to His flock through His teachings and miracles.

      Jesus was not being ironic when He said, "It is not right to take the food of children and throw it to the dogs." God's children must be fed first, the other children (dogs) second; otherwise, it would be pointless to convert since no distinction is made. Many mainline Protestant and Catholic churches have lost many members by trying accommodate outsiders while taking the faithful for granted. We fed the dogs and let the children starve. Should it be any surprise that the children envy and join the dogs than keep their place at the table? Rather, it should be the opposite as illustrated in the story of the Canaanite woman.

  2. Jesus could read hearts. He knew the motives of the pharisees. He knew the motives of others, and He also knew the heart of this woman because “God looks at the heart”. He knew the motives of every person He encountered.

    He knew that this woman was not only desperate but also strong enough to take His challenging words. He knew what she was capable of. She could take it.

    Many times Jesus reminds me of our courts…. well, sometimes…..and in the best way, I should say: He is not only trying to relate to this woman to help her, but He wants to bring a higher message home to everyone else that hears this story.

    He is sending a message: “I know what you can and cannot handle.“ He knew that this woman had what it takes to overcome His challenge. He knew of her humility. He knew of her perseverance even before she said any words. He knew that she would get to the point that she did: “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
    that fall from the table of their masters.”

    He was able to push her to the point that He did because He knew her heart. She could take what He offered. Others could not….. because they were not strong enough….But she could.

    I think if we follow the advise of Fr Alfonse: never give up; we just might reach the same destination, only if God allows.


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