The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe
Week XX, Year A 14 August 2011
Isaiah 56:1,6-7 // Romans 11:13-15,29-32 // Matthew 15:21-28
Filipinos are the world’s leading “texters” that our SMS messages could rightfully be considered as mirrors of who we are: fun-loving, humorous, romantics and on the negative side, very confused. Examine this text sent to me a few weeks ago by my cousin Portia:
“Ang Pinoy hindi tumatama ang sagot kahit maayos ang tanong…
Q: Kumain ka na ba? A: Busog pa ako.
Q: Saan kayo galling? A: Lumabas lang kami.
Q: Paano mo ginawa yan? A: Madali lang.
Q: Bakit wala ka kahapon? A: Absent ako.
Q: Anong oras na? A: Maaga pa.
Q: Saan ka na ba? A: Malapit na ako. Wait lang.
And my favorite… Q: Saan tayo kakain? A: Kayo?”
A few years ago, Francis Kong gave a talk to Catholic school teachers in our Diocese where he noted that the leading text message of Filipinos at 38 million daily is “K” or “Ok” while the next most popular text we send at 36 million a day is “Wer na U” or “San ka na?”. This means, according to Francis Kong, that 38-M Filipinos are feeling “OK” everyday while 36-M of them do not know where they are!
When I was vacationing in North America eight years ago, my relatives kept on reminding me of talking straight, of expressing in clear terms my ideas and desires especially when dealing with the Americans and Canadians. They would always tell me that our Filipino style of being shy, of beating around the bush do not simply work there. A lot often, we Filipinos prefer to take the circuitous route rather than hit the matter head on, straight; and, it seems that this is how we also express our faith with our so many rituals and prayers that sometimes we forget about God Himself.
Today, Jesus Christ is inviting us to be like the Canaanite woman who talked straight to Him by engaging Him into a conversation. Jesus and His disciples were in a foreign territory, Tyre and Sidon in modern day Lebanon when a Canaanite woman pleaded Him to heal her daughter possessed by a demon. Matthew reported that Jesus “did not say a word in answer to her” that the disciples begged Him to grant her wish so that she would stop pestering them.
He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, please help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour. (Mt.15:24-28)
For the past three Sundays, Matthew have shown us the importance of having faith in Jesus Christ who journeys with us everyday whether in the wilderness where there is little food, in the high seas amidst the storms, and now in a foreign land where we are totally a stranger just like Him! The other Sunday, I have shared with you the need to shed off our scarcity mentality to bask into the abundant blessings of God; last week, Jesus asked us to “cast out our fears and take courage” as He walks us through the many storms of life. Today, Jesus is inviting us all to claim Him as ours, that we assert our being His beloved brothers and sisters!
St. Paul said it so beautifully in his Letter to the Romans: “For the gifts and the call of God are permanent and irrevocable.” (11:29) Let us always be assured of that: God wants only the best for us and He would not take it away from us. So often, the problem is with us why fulfillment and even success becomes elusive: because we don’t have Him, our faith wavered as we opted to trust more on our selves and others than Him. We need to assert our faith in Jesus Christ especially when things are getting tougher for us, when we are in foreign territories, literally and figuratively speaking. Just like the Canaanite woman, whose race is another enemy of the Jews at that time, she was getting so lost with her daughter’s sickness but perfectly on track with Jesus, in believing in Him as the only One who could help her by recognizing Him as “Lord, Son of David!” And when she heard Jesus explaining to His disciples His mission, she came and did Him homage, addressing Him anew as “Lord.”
This is where the engaging conversation, and faith, happened like a hand-to-hand combat or grappling in judo: He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”
Remember the Wedding at Cana where a similar conversation happened between Jesus and Mary His mother who told Him that there was no more wine? And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” (Jn.2:4)
Jesus was not being rude to the Canaanite woman nor to His Mother but was simply emphasizing His mission from the Father which is to bring salvation first to Israel and then to everyone by dying on the Cross. The Canaanite woman’s response was like that of Mary who told the servers to do whatever Jesus tells them: an assertion of faith in Jesus that He alone could make things happen.
That is what I call “engaging” that connotes “intimacy” as we say in Pilipino, “matalik na ugnayan”.
Lately, I have felt in my prayers that when we come to Jesus asking Him for healing or anything, He does not really test us whether we would persevere in our prayers or not but is simply asking us to enter into Him in an intimate relationship, to be engaged with Him always because He has been so involved with us even before we experienced scarcity, fear, and alienation. From the very start as the Isaiah prophesied in the first reading, God had always regarded us all as His own children, that “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Is.56:7)
For the past three weeks, Jesus had shown us why we must have faith in Him because He’s the only one who would save us whether in the wilderness or the high seas or foreign territory…today, let us claim Him in what we proclaim! Amen!
A blessed week ahead of everyone!
Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
St. John the Evangelist Parish
Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022