20th OT 

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A


Love is the greatest power in the world. To be possessed with love is to be filled with a power which will not be denied. It’s amazing what people can do, and will do, when they are motivated by love.

We see this especially in the case of a mother who will do anything, brave anything, suffer anything, endure anything for the sake of her child. An experience in the prison ministry during visiting hours on Sundays will lead one to see mothers there signing up to visit, sometimes with the whole family, and the visiting room would be full to see the prisoners. It is unbelievable, considering the amount of pressure that mothers come under and the amount of torture they have to go through because their children get in trouble and find themselves with drug addicts and criminals.

Once, during a particularly severe winter in the Arctic, all but two people in a certain camp died of starvation. The two survivors were an Eskimo woman and her baby. The woman began a desperate search for some means of obtaining food. Eventually she found a small fish hook. It was a simple matter to rig a line, but she had no bait, and no hope of getting bait. Without a moment’s hesitation,she took a knife cut a piece of flesh from her thigh. Using this as bait, she caught a fish. She fed her child and herself, saving the fish gut for bait. She lived on fish until spring when she walked out of the camp and found some other people. It was no coincidence that the only adult to survive in that camp was a mother. What kept the mother alive was her concern for her child. There seems no limit what a mother will go through for the sake of her child. A mother doesn’t give up easily.

We see another wonderful example of this in today’s Gospel story. There we see the unshakeable determination of a mother. She just refused to be put off or to give up. How delighted she must have been when Jesus finally answered her prayer. It meant that all her trouble, all her begging, all her embarrassment, had not been in vain.

She is an example to us of perseverance, courage and love. But she is also an example of faith. Jesus said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” She is a model of what could be called tough faith.

Sometimes you hear people say, “Ah, it’s easy for you; you have great faith.” But it’s not like that at all. Faith doesn’t always make things easy. In fact, the opposite is more likely to be the case. It’s because we have faith that we refuse to give up. Faith impels us to persevere on, to struggle on, often with no guarantee of a happy outcome.

Faith is not a magic wand. It calls forth from us our humility, courage, perseverance, and above all love. Just as a mother never gives up, so too does a person with faith. Faith and love are inseparably connected. Love is the expression of our faith.


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