Our Lady of Lourdes
Jesus went to the border of the Tyrian country. There He entered a house and did not want anyone to know He was there, but He could not remain hidden. A woman, whose small daughter had an evil spirit, heard of him and came and fell at his feet. Now this woman was a pagan, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. Jesus told her, «Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs». But she replied, «Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the crumbs from the children's bread». Then Jesus said to her, «You may go your way; because of such a reply the demon has gone out of your daughter». And when the woman went home, she found her child lying in bed and the demon gone.
I do not wish to enter into the dialogue of Jesus and this lady. Rather, I would like to discover the depth of this woman's faith and how Jesus responded to this expression of faith. It was faith that brought this lady to Jesus and it was this same faith that helped her to stay with Jesus and to persist in her request. For a baptised person, faith is the source and strength of daily life, especially in difficult times.
Very often we imagine that all our supplication is the true prayers and they deserve to be fulfilled. One can easily cite them as the prayer for peace and reconciliation in the world, which we can say without any hesitation, which are a just prayer according to the divine will. At the same time we forget the preservation and commitment of each and every one of us, and our own cooperation with God, so that peace and reconciliation can find an important place in our society. Since we have a God who gives great importance to the personal freedom of each and every one of us, He cannot act in a dictatorial way (which we would like), so that we can have peace. In order that our prayer, which is right according to the divine will, may be fulfilled, God grants humanity freedom of choice and discernment, patience with difference, cooperation of all and perseverance in our prayers, which are closely linked to each other.
Action of the day : Deepen your faith et perseverance, just like the mother of this little girl.
«A woman, whose small daughter had an evil spirit, heard of him and came and fell at his feet»
Fr. Enric CASES i Martín
Today, we see the faith of a woman that did not belong to God's chosen people, but trusted Jesus could cure her daughter. That mother «was a pagan, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter» (Mk 7:26). Pain and love bring her to insistently beg, ignoring scorn, delays or indignities. And she gets what she is asking for, as she «went home, and she found her child lying in bed and the demon gone» (Mk 7:30).
Saint Augustine used to say that our prayers are not heard because we ask «aut mali, aut male, aut mala». “Mali”, because we are evil, for that our personal dispositions are not good, or they are bad, and we should be asking for, in the first place, to become good; “male” because we pray badly, without faith, not persevering, not humbly; “mala” because we ask for bad things, that is, things which are not good for us, things which can harm us. In the last analysis, prayer is ineffective when it is not true prayer. Therefore, «Pray. In what human venture could you have greater guarantee of success?» (Josemaria Escrivà). The Syrophenician woman is a good mother; she was begging something good («she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter») and she begged rightly («and came and fell at his feet»).
Our Lord wants us to use insistently the petition prayer or prayer of faith. There are, indeed, other kinds of prayers —worship, salvation, prayer of thanks—, but Jesus insists very much on our often using the petition prayer.
Why? Many could be the reasons: because we need God's help to attain our greatest aim; because it expresses hope and love; because it is a clamor of faith. But there is also a motive that, perhaps, is sometimes ignored: God wants things to be a little as we like them. Thus, our petition —which is an act of freedom— along with God's omnipotent power, can contribute to make the world as God wishes and a little as we wish, too. The power of prayer is just wonderful!