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Ask Boldly

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:1-7

At that time, says the LORD,
I will be the God of all the tribes of Israel,
and they shall be my people.
Thus says the LORD:
The people that escaped the sword
have found favor in the desert.
As Israel comes forward to be given his rest,
the LORD appears to him from afar:
With age-old love I have loved you;
so I have kept my mercy toward you.
Again I will restore you, and you shall be rebuilt,
O virgin Israel;
Carrying your festive tambourines,
you shall go forth dancing with the merrymakers.
Again you shall plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria;
those who plant them shall enjoy the fruits.
Yes, a day will come when the watchmen
will call out on Mount Ephraim:
“Rise up, let us go to Zion,
to the LORD, our God.”

For thus says the LORD:
Shout with joy for Jacob,
exult at the head of the nations;
proclaim your praise and say:
The LORD has delivered his people,
the remnant of Israel.

Responsorial Psalm: Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12AB, 13

R. (see 10d) The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together,
he guards them as a shepherd his flock.
R. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings.
R. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
and young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into joy.
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.
R. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.

Gospel: Matthew 15: 21-28

At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But he did not say a word in answer to her.
His disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And her daughter was healed from that hour.

NAB

aug 3

This woman in today’s Gospel! She teaches us all a lesson in the holy daring that can be ours in Christ if we will be place our trust in Him and in His goodness. How much our Gospel friend here has to teach me about who my Jesus really is and who I can be in Him!

This woman, the one who is not supposed to “get” Jesus, not supposed to understand who He is, gets it perfectly well. She knows that she can be courageous, approach Him with boldness, because she trusts that He is good. She knows she is unworthy to approach Him but she is not counting on that; she is counting on the compassion of His heart and flinging herself into the arms of mercy.

She begs even for just a scrap of it, as if the nearness of her encounter with Him has given her a whiff of His kindness and she is trailing its scent. Where we see a stiff, terse response, Jesus knows what He is offering is an opportunity for a heart to be truly revealed for what it is. And our Syrophoenician sister, with her eyes of humble faith, receives it is as an invitation to enter into conversation with the good man that she has come to believe has the power to save her from the enemy’s hold on what she values most.

Sometimes when Jesus offers an unexpected answer like this in the Gospel, I sort of sit with it uncomfortably, wondering what to make of it. He doesn’t seem like a very nice guy if you take this response at face value. When I come to Jesus with what feels like a desperate circumstance and He directs me to an unexpected answer like this one, I am tempted to feel like He is just being mean, or unfair, or doesn’t really love me. It is hard for me, in my own hunger, to remember that when Jesus refuses the easy answer, it is almost always because He is waiting for an opportunity to show us a bit of His glory. In our most desperate of circumstance, He knows just what we need and how best to provide it to us. No matter if it seems impossible to us. Often His provision looks and feels a little like a miracle.

Are you asking and feeling unanswered? Have you considered the answer might look differently than you think? It’s hard, sisters, but it’s God’s will manifests itself in mysterious ways at times.

photo credit

Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five amazing sons here on earth. They serve in Costa Rica where they run the St. Francis Emmaus Center, a ministry that welcomes indigenous mothers into their home to provide them access to medical care, support and education in the weeks pre & post-partum. Today’s devotion is a modified excerpt from Colleen’s newly released book, Who Does He Say You Are?: Women Transformed by Christ in the Gospels.  Find out more about her here.

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