Jesus casts a demon out of a Canaanite woman’s daughter. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Fruits of Love and Patience from the Holy Spirit so he can be more fruitful in drawing others to Jesus Christ and by growing in the Virtue of Hope so he can be strengthened to heroically endure suffering. 

Liturgy

5th Week in Ordinary Time – Thursday – Mk 7:24-30

Commentary

After clashing with the Pharisees, Jesus withdrew to the Gentile territory of Canaan. Tracing back to the time of Noah, the man Canaan was from an incestuous union of Noah’s son, Ham, and Noah’s wife; from then on, Canaan, his descendants, and the land named after him were cursed (Gen 9:18-25). The pagan Canaanite (Syrophoenician) woman, by throwing herself at Jesus’ feet and begging for mercy for her demon-possessed daughter, demonstrates her desperation, her love for her child and astounding courage and faith: Canaanites and Jews had centuries-old animosity and violent conflict; women did not approach men directly; a Canaanite pagan did not approach a Jewish rabbi. 

Surprisingly insulting, Jesus first tells the pagan woman His priority is to feed the children (Israel) and likens her and her entire people to “dogs”, scavengers unworthy of holy blessings. The persistent woman humbly and faithfully accepts the insult, addresses Jesus as “Lord”, and accepts Jesus’ insult of being like a scavenging dog by obediently begging for “scraps”, like a little dog at her master’s feet. 

In a stunning reversal, Jesus instantaneously, from a distance, casts the demon out of the woman’s daughter. Rather than being coldly harsh, Jesus acts deliberately to test and draw out the woman’s faith, to make clear His Divinity, and to offer the disciples a lesson in how to respond to persistent souls with mercy, even Gentiles with whom Jews had ancient animosities.

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Be impressed with how Jesus, with the perfection of the Divine Prophet, draws out the pagan woman’s faith: despite the pagan woman’s act to fall at His feet and beg, Jesus offers a surprisingly Harsh Rebuke to her first request to test her faith, and Insults, comparing her (and all her people) to an unclean dog (a strong insult/curse); Divine Justice, in His condemnation of the Canaanites, Jesus confirms some cultures are diseased, rightly condemned and damnable and must be rejected by His disciples; the perfection of Humility and Charity, Jesus uses Divine Power to miraculously cast out the demon from the woman’s daughter from afar, rewarding her humility, faith and persistence. 

Receive the Spirit’s fruits to be fruitful in evangelization

Realize: As Jesus extends charity to the pagan woman, every Catholic man is called to grow in charity for all people, including atheists, agnostics, those of other religions and others who are not yet in full communion with Christ’s Holy Catholic Church. 

Believe: Review the Church’s teaching about Non-Catholics (CCC 836-848).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Fruits of Love and Patience so I have the loving disposition to joyfully offer non-Catholics the highest form of love, which is to encourage them to give themselves to Jesus and His Holy Catholic Church, and to patiently endure the sorrow when the heart-hearted reject Christ.

Grow in hope in Christ to endure suffering

Realize: Each Catholic man, at some stage of his life, encounters unexplainable and overwhelming suffering, and hope is difficult to sustain when it appears that Jesus does not hear or respond to desperate prayers; realize that while Jesus’ excruciating suffering on the Cross seemed unexplainable, God used the Passion to give men the gift of Salvation, a divine confirmation that great blessings can be the fruit of great suffering in Christ. 

Believe: Reflect upon God’s Perfect Plan of Salvation (CCC 599-600).

Pray: Jesus, Source of All Hope, help me build the Virtue of Hope so that I always trust in Your Perfect Plan of Salvation and am strengthened in Your Divine Mercy during times when I or my loved ones are experiencing great suffering.