*I quote Judy and Victor in this post, You can visit their individual blogs by clicking their names under Blog Authors on this blog's sidebar.
One of the things I love about the Catholic blogging community is the good spiritual dialogue that often goes on in the comments. I experienced a bit of this during this past week on my own blog and I thought I would share it with all of you here.
The first dialogue began with a post I wrote titled, The Way To Approach Jesus in Prayer, on last week's Gospel about the Canaanite Woman. Judy, who keeps several blogs of her own and is also a contributor here, commented on my post and said she was a little conflicted about Jesus' response to this woman. Judy asked if she could "tap my brain" on this one. Here is Judy's comment and my response:
Judy: Your post is very interesting.
This story has always intrigued me, also...but in a rather different way and I would LOVE to know your thoughts about it. When I read this (and also the story of the woman who was pestering ("persisting") the judge) I am always a bit taken aback.
It seems that the "persistence" is rewarded and I "get that" part. What throws me is this: If I were up close and in person to Jesus Christ and believed that He was the God...and I asked Him for something...and He replied in the "negative" as it seems, at first that He does in this story...I would bow low and say "I'm so sorry to have troubled you my Lord" and then run off and hid somewhere to cry. So too, if the judge would have told me "no"...I would have gone away and not come back. In this regard, we teach our children to accept the answer as "no" when we give it...and you know all the cliches that go with that "Because I said so" or "I do not owe you an explanation", etc.How is it then, that these women "persisted" and did not feel as though they were being disrespectful, whining, or pestering in their pleas? Sorry to take up so much room here in the comments...but this has perplexed me for some time and I thought that your post provided a good opportunity for me to "tap your brain" about it. In other words, how do we know when God's answer is "no" as opposed to when we are supposed to "persist" and ask again...and again...and again? To me, that seems as though His first answer "wasn't good enough".
You raise some very good questions/points in your comments. Now of course I have no definitive answers for you, but my feelings and thoughts are these: First, I probably would have done as you would and thanked Our Lord for His time and walked away, but I think this is exactly what Jesus wants to see if we will do at times. Not to be mean, but to test how badly we think we need something and to test our persistence in prayer. I guess you could liken it (in an oversimplistic way) to one of your children asking you for something, you tell them no and they leave it alone, or they keep asking, your older children may even have some good arguements as to why you should grant their wish- just as this woman did for Jesus.
Now this woman had the advantage of having Jesus right in front of her; she could see His expression, hear the tone of His voice. There must have been something that made her believe she should keep begging for the Master's help. She knew that He could heal her daughter. Back to your kids- would you stop at one doctor who said "Sorry can't help you." if one of you precious children were sick? I know you wouldn't. (Sorry to make it personal) We do not have Jesus in His earthly human form in front of us, so it's back to the silence and listening to Him there. Praise Him that He has given us Himself in the Eucharist; we can sit before Him and plead our case and beg for His help, and like the Canaanite Woman, if we truly listen for Him, we will know whether we should persist in our prayer, or go away in humble acceptance of God's silence or His "No". I still feel it is better to err on the side of persistence if we are not sure. I hope my speculation helped. This side of heaven we can't really know Jesus' reasons for why He did what He did or why He does what He does (or doesn't do.
This post seems to have given you some food for meditation; perhaps you should stay with it for awhile and pray with it, maybe journal with it as well.(My spiritual journal entries are always in the form of letters to Jesus-it makes it more conversational to me.)
Thanks for your thoughts on this, Judy and for starting some good dialogue on it.
Judy raised some very good points and questions. This Gospel passage often has many of us scratching our heads wondering about why Jesus remained silent and then rebuked her. This side of heaven we may never know the answer for sure, but what we are to take from it is the example of this woman's persistence in faith and prayer.
The second bit of dialogue went on between Victor of Time for Reflections, and another contributor to this blog. Victor commented on my post in honor of the feast of the Assumption, The Assumption and the Promise of Things to Come. Victor wanted to know if I could shed any light on whether or not Mary actually died. Now despite Victor's compliment to my knowledge, I really am not (I just read a lot :). I told Victor about how the Orthodox and other Catholic rites (Byzantine for one) refer to this feast as the Dormition of Mary, the term dormition meaning to fall asleep. My dialogue with Victor went on beyond one comment so you can read our entire conversation by clicking the above link for my post and then go to the comments.
I wanted to share the thoughts of these two fellow blogging friends for several reasons: 1) both Judy and Victor raised some wonderful questions and expressed some valid points. 2) I wanted to open this dialogue to others who may be able to share their insights on one or both of these topics, and 3) I think this spiritual dialogue is what the comboxes are all about. Having traveled around the Catholic blogospere over the last two plus years, I have seen some nasty goings on in several of them. It is easy to get caught up, either in a positive or negative way, in the comments that are made or not made on our blogs. Yes, they are places where we can encourage and compliment each other, but they should also be places where we can learn and grow spiritually from each other. That starts in the posts we write and the comments can be an extension of that. However, it all starts with prayer and writing for God's glory not our own.
I know I am preaching to the choir with that third point, but you never know who will stumble across one of our posts.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and any of the related posts. Please feel free to offer your own insight on either Judy's and/or Victor's comments.
Related Link: Persevering Faith & The Lord's Mercy (video at Deacon Pat's blog. Thanks for that link Victor)