MARKS OF A GREAT FAITH
Paunang Salita. Although Jesus is the Savior of all mankind, his earthly mission was confined to the people of Israel. Occasionally, however, as we learn from today’s Gospel passage (Mt 15:21-28, see parallel acct. in Mark 7:24-30), where Jesus heals a Canaanite or Syrophoenician woman’s daughter, He knew how to make an exception, thereby showing that He was, indeed, the Savior of Jews and non-Jews alike. We examine the growth of this woman’s faith in this single episode of Jesus’ miraculous healing.
Difficult Passage. Admittedly, this is a troubling passage. Could Jesus have really thought of denying the healing of a little girl? Did He succumb to the discriminatory attitudes of the Jews of His time by referring to the Canaanites as “dogs”?
Christians through the centuries have tried to sweeten or domesticate it, for example, by pointing out that the Greek word translated here as “dogs” (kunarion) literally means “small dogs,” that is, puppies or house dogs. Well, a dog is a dog big or small, askal or house pet.
Truth to Tell. A more productive approach here is not to domesticate or tame this scriptural passage but to embrace it as a moment in which the Kingdom of Heaven breaks opens and becomes more inclusive, a moment in which we are reminded that no one is outside the embrace of God.
Miracle Pattern. I believe that a pattern of few to many (5 loaves, 2 fish to 12 baskets full of leftovers), of nothing to overflowing (no wine to best wine, Cana), exclusive to inclusive (Jews only to Gentile populace as well), was employed by the evangelists again in the light of God’s inxsability (the ability of God to provide abundantly.)
THE MARKS OF A GREAT FAITH
1º PROACTIVE ATTITUDE
‘The word proactive was originally coined by the psychiatrist Victor Frankl in his 1946 book Man’s Search for Meaning to describe a person who took responsibility for his or her life, rather than looking for causes in outside circumstances or other people.
- Means taking initiative: the woman approached Jesus despite the odds vs. her
- Means that as a human being you take responsibility for your own life: response + ability
- Means that your behavior is a product of your own decisions based on values rather than being a product of your own conditions based on feelings.
To be PROACTIVE is to act and not be acted upon.
This is true despite widely accepted theories of determinism used to explain human nature.
Determinism says that you don’t really choose anything; your choices are automatic responses to outside conditions and stimuli.
Three different types of Determinisms:
1. Genetic: Your grandparents did this to you! It runs in the blood!
2. Psychic: Your parents did this to you! They brought you up this way!
3. Environmental: Your boss, selfish spouse, your bratty son, or the economics of life –you’re born into poverty; the government, etc.
If you wrap your emotional life around the weaknesses of another person, you empower those weaknesses to control you.
- Are stuck in these determinisms and say:
- I can’t possibly do it!
- I don’t have time but I have to.
- I am what other people made of me.
- I am just what people expect of me.
- Dapat kasi eh/ Ikaw kasi eh…
- SANA pala ayon na lang…
- Wala akong magawa eh, talagang ganito na ako.
- Don’t take responsibility for their own life
- Have a “Victimized” mentality: they let yesterday hold today & tomorrow hostage.
- Have a Blaming attitude; always in a Love-Hate relationship
- Filled with anger and resentments towards parents, relatives, people of the past
- Just living out what has been scripted for them by others; sometimes even attributing these scripts to “God’s will” or “will ni Lord.”
- Are into the 4 emotional cancers of life:
- Complaining,Comparing,Criticizing,Competing (Avoid these!)
- Have a Scarcity Mentality.
- Their only sense of self-worth comes from other people’s opinions of them.
- What matters is how they compare with other people. Thus, a very limited view of themselves.
Freedom = condition of the person: the internal power to exercise the options.
Liberty = condition of the environment.
It is not what happens to us but our response to what happens that shapes our existence.
2º CATHOLIC ATTITUDE
Catholic comes from the Gk katholikos, the combination of two words: kata- concerning, and holos- whole, all. It means universal. (This combination appears in Act 9:31 The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.) However, St. Ignatius of Antioch was the first to use the name Catholic Church in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans in107 AD: “Wherever the bishop is, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”
This indicated: 1) that the name “Catholic” used to designate Jesus’ Church was apparently not something new. St. Ignatius felt no need to explain or defend the name pointing to an earlier year for the beginning of the name Catholic. Thus we posit the beginning of the name “Catholic” to the 1st c.; 2) that since Ignatius was from Antioch where the followers of Jesus were first called “Christians” (see Acts 11:26) – he knew better! The name was in use even before he wrote it; 3) that Jesus and the Catholic Church are united as one: Jesus is always found with the Catholic Church. Jesus’ command: “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations … teaching them … all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:19, 20). Notice the 3-fold —all nations, all things, all days. The Catholic attitude is a Welcoming Attitude! Simbahang bukas sa lahat ng tao, that he might have mercy upon all (1st rdg, Rom 11:32.)
3º PERSISTENT ATTITUDE in PRAYER
“Pray unceasingly.” – 1 Thes 5: 17
We are encouraged to ‘pray at all times’. Prayer is part of our daily lives. No matter what we are doing – whether going off to work, in meetings, driving our kids around, at home doing housework, out playing sports. Whatever we do each day, we can still pray. It should be natural conversation with God throughout our day. Yes, there are times when we need to set aside other things to ‘pray’, but mostly we can pray throughout the day. God bless! ♥