August 20, 2017 — Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel from the Book of Matthew describes what occurred in Tyre and Sidon when Jesus cured the daughter of a Gentile woman. Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities. The Apostles faithfully followed the Lord wherever He went, just as we are called to do.
There was only one reason that the Lord made this trip (on foot, of course, as that was the only alternative at that time), and that was to cure the daughter of the Gentile woman. Making an effort like that is a sign of Christ’s love, and His understanding of a need. He was also trying to teach His followers, which includes us, how important each individual and her or his faith is.
Jesus’ Apostles found this situation, and perhaps even this entire trip, to be a fruitless and empty gesture, more of a bother than it was worth. They even plead with Jesus to ignore the woman and send her away. They said, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” However, Jesus is teaching a lesson to each of us, actually two lessons. He does not “send her away” but finally responds, saying “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
The two lessons (messages) Jesus provides to us are easily summarized. First, we need to know and understand that Jesus loves us and He is aware of our needs. The second is that when we pray and appeal for help (all the woman finally said was “Lord, help me!”) a key to answered prayers is persistence. She had it, and we need to have it.