20th Sunday OTA

Is 56:1, 6-7; Rom 11:13-15, 29-32; Matt 15:21-28 2

A duck walks into a feed store and asks, “Got any duck feed?” The clerk tells him, “No, we don’t have a market for it so we don’t carry it.” The duck says, “Okay,” and leaves. The next day, the duck again walks in to the feed store and asks, “Got any duck feed?” Again the clerk says no and the duck leaves. Next day, the duck once again walks in, and asks, “Got any duck feed?” The clerk says, “I’ve told you twice, we don’t have duck feed, we’ve never had duck feed and we never will have duck feed. If you ask me again, I’ll nail your feet to the floor.” The duck leaves. The next day, the duck walks in and asks, “Got any nails?” “No.” “Got any duck feed?”

Have you ever known a person whose character could be summed up in 4 words? In verse 28 of our Scripture passage, Jesus said to a Gentile mother: “great is your faith.” She was a Canaanite woman who came from the country north of Palestine—a country hostile to the Jews—and she was presumably married. She had at least one child, but that’s all we know about her. We don’t even know her name! All we know is that in her single encounter with Jesus, He said to her, “great is your faith.” Only 4 words, but they were enough to enshrine her as one of the greatest mothers of all time! And these 4 words tell us everything we need to know, and we can trust them because they were spoken by Jesus.

What did this woman do to deserve such praise from Jesus? She did 3 remarkable things. First she crossed Great Barriers: She was a woman, she was a Gentile and she was a Canaanite. Here was a mother who in her need was prepared to cross any obstacle to turn to Jesus for help. Faith still requires that we make the effort to cross whatever barriers may stand in our way. Are you ready to break the barriers of consumerism and materialism and peer group that blocks from embracing spiritual life?

What exactly it made this mother to cross her barriers and get to Jesus? I believe it was 3 things: Desperation: She knew that she wasn’t doing all right by herself. She had tried other ways and they had all failed. Now she would seek help from Jesus, regardless of the cost. Love: Love for her child. Love made her accept Jesus’ silence and yet still appeal to Him; love made her suffer apparent rebuffs from the disciples. Vision: She saw in Jesus a compassion that would not turn her away. She believed in His ability and willingness to help. The measure of our faith is conditioned by what we see in Jesus.

The second thing that this mom did to illicit such praise from Jesus was that… She Persisted:  This mother would not be overcome by discouragement! She would not be discouraged when Jesus did not respond to her cry for mercy: “But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her”. She would not be discouraged by the contempt shown her by Jesus’ disciples: “Jesus’ disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us” (Mt 5:23). She would not be discouraged by the hard doctrine that Jesus declared: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

The third quality of this mother that caused Jesus to praise her was… She Made No Claim (v.27):  She relied on the GRACE of Jesus. When our Lord told her that it didn’t seem right to take bread from the children of Israel and throw it to the little dogs of the Gentiles, she didn’t burst into tears and walk away. Instead, she gave Jesus an answer that must have excited Him! She said, “”True, Sir. I admit that I have no claim on You, but there must be some extra grace—some grace that I don’t deserve, and I’m appealing to You for that.”

No wonder Jesus replied, “Woman, great is your faith.” No wonder from that moment her daughter was made whole. This mother possessed great faith because she won over her difficulties and over the devil. Every obstacle and opposition may be conquered by faith through prayer.

If you are a parent who feels the need to strengthen your faith, do what the woman did. But don’t wait for the last minute; begin the habit, starting this week, of going to Jesus on a daily basis to ask his blessing on your children. So, don’t despair when faced with a problem. Cross the barriers to Jesus. Persist in your belief. Receive His grace which He offers freely to all who will approach Him in true humility. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Let us ask ourselves: Will Jesus tell you and me those four words: “Great is your faith”?