If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Friday, 29 August 2014

22nd Sunday of Year A 2014

 22nd. Sunday of Year (A)
(Jeremiah 20:7-9; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27)

The words of St. Paul in our second reading:
Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect,
are as pertinent and necessary today as they were at the very beginning of Christianity.  Then, many Christians were tempted, or driven by fear of the persecuting might of the Roman Empire, to conform to expected state-worship and thus save themselves from being reported as refusing to join in sacrifices to the traditional gods for the well-being of the Empire and the Emperor himself.
Likewise today, many wavering or nominal Catholics strive earnestly to keep in tune with the currently acceptable opinions and attitudes of society around them and today’s first reading from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah was one that would not have been comfortable hearing for them, since the impressions of ordinary non-religious people these days with regard the prophet Jeremiah – if, indeed, such people have any awareness of the prophet at all – derive from the cloud which hovers over his very name: for they regard a ‘Jeremiah’ as one who always  looks on the dark side of things, a harbinger of evil whose legacy is an ancient book called ‘Lamentations’, the like of which are now frequently termed as ‘Jeremiads’.
Occasional Catholics dare not resist such talk because it is so very easy for people who decry the prophet to then turn round and mock any who show him or his writings respect or reverence as being as weak personalities, fragile characters, unable to share and rub shoulders with others in the normal joys of life, unwilling to echo what others proclaim as being so very good in current thought and practices; and of being – to put it bluntly – real Jeremiah’s, full of despondency and complaints concerning modern society!
And so, although neither Jeremiah’s personal courage nor his fidelity to the office of prophet-in-Israel can ever be questioned let alone denied, nevertheless he seems condemned to permanently suffer under the common misapprehension that he was ‘a bit of a moaner’  even though today’s short first reading shows how far he was, in fact, from being such ‘a moaner’.  For, moaners are always complaining to others, constantly soliciting the sympathy of those around them, whereas Jeremiah only gave expression to his anxieties and fears in the secrecy of personal prayer to God.  Far from being public cries for human sympathy, his words were private and most humble acknowledgements before God alone about his deep fear of being personally unfit for the divine task being asked of him. 
Before men, as I have just said, Jeremiah showed himself as most courageous, one called to suffer much over many years as a servant of the Lord.  It is true that he publicly and frequently forecasted disaster, but that was the task given him by the Lord; the words and the warnings were of the Lord's commissioning not of Jeremiah’s choosing.
In one passage of his book he tells us (Jeremiah 15:16) just how much he loved the word of God:
Your words were found, and I ate them, Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.
But, rejoicing so whole-heartedly in God's word, and having sincerely tried to fulfil the Lord’s command, Jeremiah was both puzzled at the reception given to his proclamation of the word of the Lord, and alarmed at the outcry it stirred up against him personally.  And so, in his private prayer to God he says:
Why is my pain perpetual and my wound incurable?   Will You surely be to me like an unreliable stream, as waters that fail? (15:18)
You will get a true idea and real awareness of his courage if you appreciate that what was happening to him was that which most people today fear above all: he was being mocked by his friends and acquaintances, opposed and rejected by the generality of his own people, and even hated by the religious authorities; all because he was proclaiming -- in the name of the Lord -- a message they refused to listen to and would not accept:
Whenever I speak, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day. 
Foreshadowing somewhat in that way the loneliness of our Blessed Lord on Calvary, he cried:
Woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me, a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth!  (15:10)
Surely you will appreciate that only a man of strong spirit and great courage would have dared to repeatedly proclaim a message everyone considered unpatriotic and defeatist, a message no one wanted to hear and which brought down so great a measure of public opprobrium and personal contempt upon his head.
In his prayers he told the Lord how he had thought of keeping his mouth shut: why keep on shouting out what no one will accept; proclaiming what only brings public derision, and provokes -- what is much worse -- official suspicion and opposition bordering on hatred?
And yet, when he tried to keep silent he found that:
(His word) becomes like a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary of holding it in, I cannot endure it. 
He was in a dilemma: for though he dreaded speaking out, yet he was finding it impossible to keep quiet.  He did indeed need to pray, to seek God's help and guidance, for only the Lord could appreciate and alleviate his situation.
Listen carefully to what the Lord said to him, however, because it may well surprise you, since it clearly shows that commiseration and sympathy are not always the true expression of divine love; being very human words indeed, they can easily be uttered for public hearing and the enhancement of the speaker’s personal reputation:
If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve Me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be My spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.  (15:19)
Notice those words “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve Me”.  In other words: repent, because at present you are not showing yourself as one worthy to serve Me; for, to serve Me -- even if it involves earthly suffering -- is a privilege.
We should also notice those other words:
 Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.”
You must not try to make your preaching acceptable to them: My Word is My Word; it alone – in its full integrity -- is good for My people; don't you dare change or adapt it to their liking.
Yes, People of God, how important it is for Catholic Christians today to realise that God's message is not to be evaluated in accordance with its popularity: it is not to be adapted and changed in order to accommodate modern fancies, opinions, or desires.  Moreover, how necessary it is for us to calmly appreciate that it is always a supreme gift and privilege to serve God, and any suffering it might involve calls for a measure of divine strength and wisdom, gifts that God can give, and will give to those who turn to Him with a confidence and patience that Jeremiah had to learn, not, indeed, only for himself but also for our example and encouragement.
Sadly, the heroism of Jeremiah is confirmed today by too many Catholics who never stand up for Jesus and the Church, who shun all that calls for active involvement and personal risk on behalf of the Gospel in its confrontation with the world.  
However, today I want not so much to reprove bad Catholics as to encourage good ones, and in the Gospel reading there is much help for all who want to give of their best for God’s purposes.
There, Jesus began to speak to His disciples about His forthcoming condemnation and crucifixion, and we are told that:
Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, "God forbid Lord!  No such thing shall ever happen to You.”
Whereupon Jesus turned sharply on Peter saying:
Get behind Me, Satan! You are an obstacle to Me.  You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
To shake Peter out of his popular and comforting expectations He had to use harsh words, insisting most firmly that He Himself, and consequently His Church and His disciples, could in no way expect to live untroubled, peaceful, lives here in this wicked world:
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.
Consequently, we who love Mother Church should not, must never, allow ourselves to be alarmed or become despondent when our Faith is attacked, mocked, denied, or simply ignored by the majority, for it happened to Jesus Himself (John 15:20s.):
Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.'  If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
In our present trials here in the West, and in the repeated persecutions and murders of Catholics and Christians all over the world, we must always bear in mind Jesus' clear admonition:
Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.   For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?  For the Son of Man will come with His angels in His Father’s glory, and then He will repay everyone according to his conduct. 
People of God: have quiet confidence and firm trust in God, for you have all been personally called by the Father to serve His Son and to find salvation through Him and in Mother Church.  You have divine strength available to you, for you are in the Church where the full truth about Jesus, and all the grace and power of His Spirit, are at your disposal in her teaching, and through her sacraments and fellowship. However, you need to realize that you yourself have something to bring for the celebration and enjoyment of the inaugural feast of God’s glorious Kingdom … the wedding garment of faith.  Strength is not to be felt first; first comes your commitment of faith, in response to which is given such strength, joy, and peace as will enable you to bear up under your cross.   Try to realize and appreciate just how close you are to those very earliest Christians who suffered for the Faith in the pagan atmosphere of the all-conquering Roman Empire to whom Peter wrote words (1 Peter 4:12-14)  which apply personally to all of us today:
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.  If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.    

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Twenty-first Sunday Year A 2014

Twenty-first Sunday, Year (A)

(Isaiah 22:19-23; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20)


Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are His judgments and how unsearchable His ways!  For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.  To Him be glory forever. Amen

That hymn of St Paul expresses beautifully the spirit which animates those who have a true appreciation of God.  And since the Incarnation and the Work of our Redemption are the greatest works of God’s inscrutable wisdom, how could it be that any mortal, of himself, should understand and recognize the dispositions of God in regard to the Christ, His Messiah?

When James and John asked Jesus -- through their mother (!) -- for positions one at His right hand and the other at His left in His Kingdom, Jesus answered that it was not for Him to give such places; rather, they belonged to whomsoever the Father had chosen for them.  Thus there was mystery even for Jesus as man.  And so, when in today’s Gospel reading we hear Him put first the question:

            Who do people say that the Son of Man is?

and then follow it with another:

            But who do you say that I am?

we can almost sense Him waiting to discover to whom -- if anyone – the Father  would give understanding of the mystery of His Person.  And then it was that Simon spoke up, giving voice to a wisdom that was not his own:

            You are the Christ the Son of the living God!

Who has known the mind of the Lord?  writes St. Paul; and Jesus, recognizing His man, so to speak, said in response to Simon’s assertion:

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My heavenly Father.

And here we are at a supremely significant moment for the Church of Jesus: the Father has picked out, designated, Simon for special prominence in the proclamation of the truth about Jesus’ Person and in the continuance and extension of His ministry of saving grace; and Jesus, recognizing His Father’s intervention, adopts His Father’s choice by Himself appointing Simon as head of His Church by bestowing on him a new name, Peter, for that very purpose and function:

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

The name Peter is a translation (through the Greek) of the Aramaic word ‘Kepha’, which is identical in form either as a personal name or as the word ‘rock’.

People of God, this is also a moment of great significance for each of us personally.   The Church, as a visible structure, is established, founded, upon Peter’s faith; and in like manner, as regards the interior and spiritual life of each one of us, the Kingdom of God is to be established in consequence of our act of faith.  The whole supernatural life-stream in us originates with our act of faith whereby we say ‘yes’ to God’s revelation, and to Mother Church’s proclamation, of Jesus.  Just as Mary said ‘yes’ to Gabriel’s message, so our ‘yes’ of faith in Jesus allows God’s saving grace to enter our lives and begin to totally transform and transfigure them.

But what kind of faith is this?  Earlier in St. Matthew’s Gospel (14:33) we were told how Our Lord walked on the waves of the storm-tossed lake towards His disciples labouring hard to keep their boat afloat, and how Peter had – at Jesus’ bidding – begun to walk from the boat towards Jesus, before hesitating and then beginning to sink.  Jesus rebuked Peter for his little faith as He raised him up, before they both got into the boat and the wind ceased.  Whereupon, we read that:

Those in the boat worshipped Him saying, ‘Truly, You are the Son of God.’

Now, to those words Jesus answered nothing at all so far as we know.  Yet, when Simon said, later on, as we have just heard:

            You are the Christ the Son of the living God!

Jesus proclaimed him blessed because he had been favoured with a revelation from His heavenly Father.   What was the difference between:  You are the Son of God’, and, ‘You are the Christ the Son of the living God’, that brought about such a result?

In the second example Peter recognizes Jesus as not only the ‘Son of God’ but also as the Christ, the Messiah … in other words, as distinct from the terrified disciples’ acclamation which expressed their own relief as much as it acknowledged Jesus’ sovereign power, Peter’s inspired exclamation expressed no personal relief, but ‘with heart and voice’ proclaimed a divinely bestowed awareness of Jesus not just as the powerful Son of God, but as the SAVIOUR; the Son of God indeed, but come to save and redeem -- make atonement for – Israel and all mankind!

Yes, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the faith which saves us today, the faith which is God’s gift, is not merely knowledge about God but the ability to recognize and respond to the divine truth of God’s-presence-to-save in Jesus and in His Church.

There are those today who denigrate concern for doctrinal accuracy, not only in public words but also personal thinking.  For them, with them, the words ‘dogma’ and ‘dogmatic thinking’ have acquired unsavoury overtones of meaning whereby they imply an overbearing, intolerant, and rigidly narrow cast of mind; they are said to stifle our spontaneity, extinguish constructive adaptation, thwart our spiritual growth.  Again, such thinkers and speakers claim that there is no such thing as objective truth, no incontrovertible truth concerning God.

But look at Jesus in today’s Gospel!  How interested and concerned He was that men, above all His disciples, should think the truth about Himself; and such was His esteem for that truth that when He heard Simon give voice to it He immediately concluded with absolute certainty that His Father had spoken to and through Simon, with the result that He most solemnly declared:

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My heavenly Father.

Moreover, He then went on to speak words of enduring validity:

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

Again, later on He would declare (John 18:37):

For this was I born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth;

and would, on the eve of His crucifixion speak in prayer to His Father these most holy words:

Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you, and (these You have given Me) know that You sent Me (John 17:25),

where knowledge of truth embraces as one with the Father, Jesus and His disciples.

Faith is, indeed, a most sure knowledge of divine truth, for Jesus Himself is ‘the Truth’; and it requires, calls for, a total commitment of love.

To know the Truth, to recognize the Truth, to appreciate, love and proclaim the Truth … that is a most sure sign of God’s loving presence.  On the other hand, to embrace error, rejecting the truth, is subject to the following dread judgment of Our Lord:

Because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.  If I am telling the truth, why do you not believe Me?  Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God.”  (John 8:45-47)

A theologian may be able to write volumes about God and more volumes about the Church and what it should be like .. but that, in itself, is not the exercise of Christian faith.  You who see in Christ your own Saviour, you who have come to Mass,  who draw near to the Holy Table at Communion, you who frequent the Sacraments and listen to the Word of God and obey it … you are those of whom  Jesus said:

Blessed are you; for flesh and blood have not revealed (such things) to you but My heavenly Father!

That ability to recognize Jesus as Saviour, the God-Man, come to save each one of us personally and to offer salvation to the whole of mankind in and through His Church, that is the true Christian faith which is the Father’s best gift.

A most important aspect of the need for dogmatic teaching in the Church and accurate personal thinking is the fact that our thoughts guide our choices and form our characters.  And that is the reason for the apparently strange, but in reality one of the most significant expressions in the New Testament writings, to do the truth (John 3:21; in the Latin, ‘qui facit veritatem’) well rendered in more modern idiom by:

But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

You who are true disciples of Jesus and desire earnestly to grow in love of Him and fidelity to Him, know your Catholic and Christian doctrine.  Do not let random emotional feelings determine your deliberate thoughts.  But rather, through your deliberate thoughts mould and adapt your feelings to the Truth of Jesus in the Church, and then endeavour whole-heartedly to love that Truth (at times it has to be willed as Truth before it can become loved as Truth) with your total commitment.

Note also that Simon said ‘You are the Christ’, the Christ foretold by the prophets from of old; the Christ whose message is for Israel and for the whole world through Israel; the Christ with Whom the whole world in all its inarticulate beauty, majesty, and power resonates in deep, mysterious, harmony; the Christ who fulfils all the longings and desires of the human heart; the Christ in Whom alone my own individual life at last takes on transcendent significance and purpose, as it experiences the unimaginable joy of a beginning to its fulfilment both temporal and eternal.

In this aspect of our Catholic and Christian faith, People of God, lies the hidden treasure of our heavenly calling and earthly service for our world today; for we have to live ever more deeply our faith that Jesus is the unique Christ and only Saviour for the whole of mankind, because He is Perfect God and Perfect Man. We must develop our ability -- by grace and through prayer -- to recognize and respond to Him; and in Him, with Him, learn to love the Father in heaven and our brethren on earth at all times and in all circumstances.  For all creation, all men, all happenings, have unique significance, beauty, and meaning when encountered, recognized, and responded to with Jesus the Christ for the Father; and only as we -- His humble and sincere disciples -- appreciate this ever more fully, will we be truly living in the heart of the world as authentic witnesses to and members of Jesus, and in Him as Spirit-formed and Spirit-endowed children of the heavenly Father.


Thursday, 14 August 2014

20th Sunday of the Year (A) 2014

20th Sunday of Year (A)  

(Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28)

People of God, today’s Gospel reading is somewhat provocative, in that by showing us something of the intimate Personal character of Jesus it invites us to pay greater attention to our own attitude towards God and religion in general, and to our Catholic life of faith in and with Jesus in particular.

Jesus had left Israel and was walking with His disciples through a Gentile region where men and women did not talk freely to strangers of the opposite sex – as is the case even today, we are told, in conservative areas.  Rabbis, Indeed, did not even talk to female members of their own families in public.  Consequently, there was nothing strange in Jesus’ ignoring the cries of the Syro-phoenician woman.

However, here at the very beginning, the story is already provoking us with regard to Jesus’ behaviour; for surely, not a few critical observers will at this very moment be thinking that it was not very ‘nice’ of Jesus to ignore the woman thus.  After all, is there not a widespread conviction that religion is mainly about ‘being nice to people’?  And if, for some, there is more to religion than that, nevertheless, ‘niceness to others’ is Popularity’s supreme criterion for judging it.

The woman in our Gospel story was herself quite aware of the barrier of social impropriety for her – a woman and a Gentile – to be thus publicly addressing Jesus, a Jewish man, for she put on a smattering of Jewishness by calling out from among the crowd to Him as might a troubled co-religionist have done: 

Have pity on me Lord, Son of David!

However, she then went on to make herself not only something of a nuisance but also rather troublesome and disturbing to Jesus’ disciples, who, in some measure seeking to protect Jesus, drew closer to Him and whispered urgently:

            Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.

Jesus’ reply to such words shows us just how far the popular idea that religion is about being nice to people was and is from Jesus’ own Personal attitude:

            He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Notice, People of God, how decisively and deliberately Jesus reveals to His closest circle of disciples, and to us this day, that His deepest and most heart-felt concern for the ultimate success of His public ministry was that He be found doing the will of the One -- His Father -- Who had sent Him:

            I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

At this juncture I want you to recall how Jesus responded to His Mother Mary’s strange behaviour at the marriage feast in Cana when she told the servants:

            Do whatever He tells you.

Jesus had not intended doing anything at that moment and so Mary’s behaviour was not only unusual and rather awkward for Him, but also somewhat embarrassing.
The Syro-phoenician women causes something of a like difficulty here:

            (She) came and did Him homage, saying, “Lord, help me”.

Jesus adverted to the woman directly only after having rejected His disciples’ call for Him to get rid of her; nevertheless, that intervention by the disciples seems to have given the woman confidence or opportunity enough to come forward quickly and throw herself at Jesus' feet asking for a miraculous cure for her daughter. Here it is that Jesus breaks His silence in regard to the woman; and this is something we should carefully note and store in our memory:

God never ignores the prayers of Mother Church, the Bride and Body of His Christ.
And so it was with Jesus in our Gospel reading.  His apparent refusal:

It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs,

was both uncompromising and uncomplimentary.  Nevertheless, it contained a hidden treasure -- to be discovered only according to the woman’s right dispositions, which thankfully (for we also can profit from her blessing) she was able to show -- a most beautiful grace that provoked (that word again!) her to pour out words unplanned and most beautiful.
It is important for us to understand the mind of Jesus here.  St. John tells us that Jesus once explained that He had not come here on earth merely of His own will; He had been sent by His Father, and consequently was here among men only for express purpose of doing His Father's will:

I came down from heaven not to do My own will but the will of the One Who sent Me.

He did not say He had come among us to do good as He Himself thought; and ‘a priori’ He had not come to do what ‘people’ thought was ‘good’ or imagined ‘would be nice’.  He had come because He had been sent: sent to do the goodness willed by His Father and thus to proclaim His Father’s glory and serve our salvation, as He once declared:

Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. (Mark 10:18)

There we have the key to most of our world's sufferings today.  There are so many people, often called do-gooders, who are prominent and vocal in society and in government, some indeed are judges and law makers in national and multi-national organizations, and all will say they seek to do good, and probably regard themselves as sincere.  But such sincerity is not enough, because the good they seek is, at the best, a good that they themselves -- as members and promoters of a predominantly secular, and proudly anti-religious society -- approve of; in other words, a humanistic, rationalistic, idea of what is good for mankind.
Jesus, on the other hand, did not seek to do good as men saw it, He sought to do the only real and true good for humanity made by God; that is, the will of the God Who fashioned them in His own likeness: His Father's will for the children He is seeking to save.
So here, at this stage in our Gospel reading, we find Jesus seeking to discover what ‘qualifications’, so to speak, this woman had from His Father; for His Father had not sent Him to serve the pagan peoples around but only  'the lost sheep of the house of Israel'.  He therefore said, speaking somewhat sharply to the woman:

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

How many people today would have stormed off in a fever of self-righteous indignation after words of that sort!   In fact, in today’s modern, super-sensitive and sanctimonious Britain, they could possibly be construed not only as politically incorrect, but even legally criminal words, words expressing racial hatred!!  

This woman was not of such an ilk, however, and this is where we must start to learn about ourselves from her example of marvellous humility, because she was deeply aware of both her daughter’s, and her own, great need, and of the undeniable power and unmistakable holiness of this Jewish man Jesus from Whom she was seeking a healing miracle for her daughter.  So many of those who decry or ignore God and the Church today are filled with human imaginations of their own personal dignity and secular rights which impose no limits to the abuse of their tongues, whilst having little or no awareness of the spiritual depths of the subjects they address, let alone reverence or awe, for the supreme majesty and sublime holiness of the God they presume to reproach. 

This wonderfully humble woman of the Gospel, however, answered Jesus in all humility and truth, and speaking with a simplicity and wisdom that were not her own, she said:

“Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

Unknown to herself she had, with those beautifully humble and unstudied words presented her credentials (so to speak): for Jesus recognized at once that such wisdom could only have been given her by His Father.  And so, without further ado – for had He not come for but one purpose, to do His Father’s will? -- He said:

O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish. 

St. Matthew, recounting that event, was showing his converts, both Jewish and pagan, and is also telling us today, that a miraculous event is nothing more than a few crumbs in comparison with the heavenly banquet prepared in heaven for Jesus’ disciples and for all those who will subsequently become children of God the Father through faith in His Son.  We who are present at Mass, who offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice and share in the Eucharistic food, ought to recognize and appreciate that we are thereby sharing in and partaking of a treasure incomparably more stupendous and awe-inspiring than any miraculous cure.  We would be thrilled if a miracle were to take place here in our midst, why are we not more thrilled by this beginning of heavenly realities and blessings beyond our imagination?  The reason is that we can only come to such an appreciation by an active faith: not just coldly believing mere words without being caught up or involved, but a loving and humble faith which deeply appreciates and wholeheartedly responds, faith such as that of the Canaanite woman, of whom Jesus most approvingly said, O woman, great is your faith!

By nature we are sensitive, responsive, to physical blessings and miracles.  By faith we must endeavour, strive, long, to find ourselves growing more and more aware of and responsive to the supremely wonderful blessings and miracles of grace offered to us in the sacramental life and public prayer of Mother Church, and to be enriched by the wondrous privilege of personal prayer in the Spirit, with Jesus, before the Father.  This, I believe, is a truly essential work incumbent upon us as Catholics today. 

The Canaanite woman appreciated and loved her daughter by nature.  She came to appreciate Jesus first of all from what she had heard of Him; and then she did all she could – not to everybody’s liking, indeed, as was the case for blind Bartimeus also -- to draw close to Him, approaching Him above all with humility, aware of His majesty and her own need.  And yet, although she was so humble, she was also most courageous.  Her courage -- whereby she would not allow herself to be put-off from her desire to meet and plead personally with Jesus -- was not only stronger than any belligerence with others, but also very much more discerning and effective; for she was wonderfully firm and courageous with herself, refusing to be drowned by self-pity or exalted by pseudo-indignation, on hearing words of Jesus whose apparent meaning and deepest, hidden, purpose she could in no way understand.

People of God, we, each and every one of us, have to try to develop such a faith within us: a humble seeking, a persevering longing, and an ever more grateful and responsive faith.  Without such faith we will, at the very best, only be able to digest scraps from the table of the Lord; which would indeed be tragic, because we have been called personally to the fullness of faith in Mother Church and are being prepared to participate in a banquet of heavenly proportions.  It is up to us: we have been invited and Mother Church cannot fail us on the way, the Holy Spirit guarantees that.  So let us help ourselves and try to help each other, for, as St. Paul tells us:

The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.