- Matthew 15:21-28
What courage and persistence the Canaanite woman in this week’s Gospel shows? At this time in history, she would have started with two strikes against her when asking Jesus for a favor – she is a woman and she is not an Israelite. In spite of this, she calls out to Jesus anyway, asking Him to cure her daughter. Jesus ignores her. When she persists and the disciples want to tell her to go away, Jesus rebuffs her directly. But still she persists, even to the point of bowing down to Jesus and pleading with Him. Jesus rebuffs her again. At this point, having been denied three times, most of us would have given up. Still, the Canaanite woman continues and pushes back against Jesus. It is only after this that Jesus, recognizing her faith, grants her request. It was her faith that caused Jesus to grant her request, but it was her persistence which revealed that faith to those around her.
For many of us, persistence, especially in our prayer, can be a challenge. We are taught from a young age not to bother others with our problems. If we ask for something once and are turned down, we don’t keep asking again. Rather, we accept the answer and move on. Too often, we carry this over to our relationship with God. We pray about something and want a definite answer. This is part of being human. But God does not always operate the way we would like or in the time we would like. He has a plan, and it is often not clear to us. While this can be frustrating, it is something we must learn to accept.
When we encounter that situation, it can be tempting to just say forget it and move on – to turn our backs on God and conclude that He really does not care about us. This is the biggest mistake we can make! Rather, like the Canaanite woman, we must persist in our requests. When we do not receive an answer to our prayers, we take it to God in prayer again. This may mean we pray for the same thing for weeks, months or even years at a time. Although it is difficult, we need to understand that our prayer will be answered in due time. If we persist in our prayer, we can be assured that one day, God will say to us, “Great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”