Holy Cross Catholic Church

Browsing Fr. Emery's Blog

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 20, 2023

Dear friends,

Back to back we are offered the events related to faith in the gospel readings. Last week, we heard Jesus challenge His disciples for their lack of faith. He called them to trust in Him because He is the only one who can grant them peace and safety in every situation. Trusting in Him and constantly relying on Him makes us walk with Him on the waters and courageously face the storms of our daily life. Once we turn from Him, we consequently start sinking into hopelessness, fear, and despair.

Today, it is not the faith of the disciples but that of Canaanite woman, from the Gentiles, meaning not a part of the chosen people. This story is an eye opener for us. Jesus says, the first will be last, and the last will be first. We are reminded to focus on the most important thing we look for from the Lord: the grace of faith that strengthens our discipleship journey. Jesus’ response to the woman can be compared with the waves and storms that challenged the disciples while on the boat last weekend. The difficulty and the seeming refusal in the answer from Jesus could have shut the woman off. Yet, she knew what she was looking for with the assurance that no one else could give her besides Jesus. She kept her focus, with faith and trust, and she got her request granted.

You and I are challenged today as we reflect on our commitment to discipleship. Time and again, we tend to be discouraged and to give up in the face of challenges and difficult situations on our discipleship path. Persistence, perseverance, faith and trust are qualities and virtues we are taught to nurture as disciples. These are the weapons we are to make fruitful to pass through the narrow gate. Like the woman of the gospel, we are called to focus on what is necessary and refuse to pay heed and attention to what can be just a distraction.

So, let us see today. As we gather here, where do you think your focus is? What makes your mind wander and be distracted from the Lord who teaches you and feeds you with His words, body and blood? Maybe the length of waiting to see God’s response to your prayers; or a child screaming in the back of the church; or even the length of the celebration, and you think God’s answer is waiting for you in the parking lot… All these cannot be raised up to the level of the challenges able to make your faith falter. The woman of the gospel stands in front you today and tells you this, if I did it, you can also do it.  It takes only a little bit of attention to and focus on what is necessary and you will see the Lord’s answer to you.

As we strive to respond to the Lord’s call to discipleship, let pray to the Lord to increase our faith and our commitment to him. Let us pray for strength and courage to face the storms, obstacles, and waves of our every day’s life with faith with the assurance that the Lord will always give us what is necessary for our growth as disciples for the building up of his church, our community of faith. And let us continue to pray for one another and for our parish family. 

Fr. Emery


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