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Persevering prayer

By: Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

There’s an old saying which goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” (Obviously, this doesn’t apply to committing suicide!).

That was just what the Canaanite woman did in the gospel of this 20th Sunday. She kept on pestering the Lord to the point of vexation to cure her possessed daughter.

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Jesus tried to ignore her, then rebuffed her, finally insulted her by insinuating she was a housedog. “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the housedogs” (Mt 15,16).

She was undaunted. Instead, she turned the table around by making a smart repartee, which stunned Jesus, “Ah yes, sir; but even housedogs can eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.”

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Jesus was so impressed by the woman’s brash reply that he exclaimed, “Woman, great is your faith. Let your wish be granted.”

The lesson is clear. We should not get discouraged in our prayers. We should be “cheeky”; in local parlance, “magpakapal ng mukha” and, like that Canaanite woman, our perseverance will be rewarded.

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Some say, however, that their prayers fall on deaf ears. We should remember that prayer begins with the risk of asking or entrusting ourselves to silence, uncertainty and even rebuff. Hence, the saying, “Man proposes; God disposes.”

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Moreover, our prayer may not be answered because God has other plans. This is illustrated by the story of Louis Martin, a French man. He wanted to become a priest, however. he was turned down because of poor health. He abandoned his ambition, worked, and eventually got married to Zelie Guerin.

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A devout Catholic couple, they bore nine children (at that time, there was no family planning yet!) and four of the girls entered the Carmelite Convent. One of them became outstanding in prayers, penance and simplicity, and she eventually became a saint, that is, St. Therese of the Child Jesus.

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Had Louis become a priest, we would not have a Millenium Saint and universal Patroness of the Church Missions today.

“When God closes the door for you, he opens a window.”

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VS. DISCRIMINATION. The other lesson we can learn from this Sunday gospel is that God does not discriminate against anyone. The woman was not a Jew. For the Jews who were ultra-nationalistic, helping or doing a favor for a non-Jew was not only forbidden but even considered a grave offence.

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Jesus broke the barrier when he helped the Canaanite woman. As followers of Christ, we should avoid all forms of discrimination, whether racial, religious or social.

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ASK YOURSELF: Is my faith in God persevering when my prayers are “rebuffed”? Or, do I get discouraged and give up?

On discrimination, do you look down on people because of their different religious beliefs or low social status?

Check your attitude and deeds against Jesus teachings.

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LAFFF WITH GOD. A small boy praying in church says loud: “Lord, bigyan mo ako…cheeseburger, French fries, apple pie, strawberry shake, diet coke…” Priest passing by said: “Iho, nanalangin ka ba o nag-oorder?”

Note: When we pray, we don’t order God.

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As you start the day, don’t forget to PRAY that you may live…TAKE A BATH so others may live!

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For comments, feedbacks, email: belsvd@gmail.com

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