Nowhere Else To Go – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet Nguyen’s Homily August 16, 2020

“Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t answer your prayers? Have you ever wondered that, when you pray, not even for yourself but maybe for someone else and you only get silence? Many people have asked that question and in today’s Gospel this story is used to answer that. In today’s Gospel there’s a Canaanite woman who comes to Christ and says, ‘Lord son of David help her.’ Now the context of this is that the Canaanites were kind of outcasts and they knew it and the thing too is that even the Jews, Jesus’ own people, didn’t believe that he was the Christ, the son of David, so it’s amazing to see that this woman, a Canaanite woman, would address him in this way as Lord and son of David? But what does Jesus do? Actually he doesn’t do anything. It’s just silence. He doesn’t respond to it. Oftentimes there is in our lives where we pray out in earnestness, not even for ourselves and we get the silence don’t we? But do we quit? This Canaanite woman didn’t. She comes back to Christ and she prostrates herself before him. Even Jesus says that he was sent for the people of Israel for the children of Israel and that’s true that the Messiah came for the Israelite people, but not just for them. It was really for all of us. The first reading today says that that the Israelites were the chosen people, but it’s to give example to the rest of the world that Christ’s love and mercy was for us all. This Canaanite woman she knew that somehow. She believed it, so she persisted and finally she comes to Christ one more time and Jesus says that it is wrong to give food of the children to the dogs, so now not only maybe not acknowledging her, but it seems like an insult doesn’t it? Even in that time to call someone a dog was kind of vicious, but she doesn’t take it in, but she responds to it that even the dogs eat the scraps of the master. Persistence. Her persistence in prayer, her persistence to Christ, that is the key. That’s what the church fathers look at this scripture passage and tells us that it’s the persistence of this Canaanite woman and her great faith. God calls each of us to that. Are we persistent in our prayer or do we give up right away?

This Canaanite woman, the last thing she said to Jesus was to ‘just help me.’ She humbly came before the Lord knowing that there was nowhere else to go and really begged for his help. That is one of the key things to our prayer life is to know where to go and also know that there is nowhere else to go but to Jesus Christ. In some ways in this scripture passage Jesus is testing her not in a cruel way, but testing her. St. Augustine has said the answer to the question of why does God not answer our prayers is that he doesn’t answer our prayers so that we continue to reveal our longing in our hearts. The deepest longing of our hearts will be revealed to us that during that time our hearts will open up more so as to receive the grace of God when it comes and that’s what happens to this Canaanite woman that maybe she didn’t know how strong her faith was, but through this persistence through this questioning of Jesus she got to see how great her faith was during the trials. So, will you open your hearts to Christ? Will you continue to persist even for that longing knowing that God has something great in store for us and maybe it’s not the time, but he’s preparing our hearts to receive such a great gift, so as you come before the Lord where Christ is truly present before you tonight let us continue to ask the Lord for the strength and the courage as this Canaanite woman had to persist in our prayer life our persistence in our faith so that one day we could see how strong our faith really is with Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.”