BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya.

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Psalm 67
Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
Matthew 15:21-28

A story is told that one day a certain curious person in heaven asked St. Peter: “How many Hindus are in heaven?” St. Peter replied: “No Hindus.” Then he asked: “How many Muslims?” “Not even one,” replied St. Peter. The man was surprised. He said: “Oh then, there are only Christians in heaven?” “No there are no Christians in heaven either,” replied St. Peter. “How many Catholics?” asked the man. St. Peter replied: “No Catholics either.” Then he continued, “Heaven is not meant for a particular group of people. Here there is no distinction between Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists or Christians, for all are welcome in heaven, and there they are all children of God.”

All the three Scripture Readings of today tell us that God intends salvation to be available for all persons. It is a truth of the Catholic faith that Jesus Christ, as God made man, offers through his teaching and through his death and resurrection the way to salvation for all peoples. His teaching, life, death and resurrection have a universal effectiveness and application.

He moves the fence to include all and he invites us to do the same. He does not make distinction based on ethnicity, religion, gender, social class, or economic standing. What really matters is keeping faith in him and obeying his commandments. These are the criteria by which we will be judged.

Since God’s salvation is open to all, we Christians, Catholics in particular, should be challenged to be more serious and committed in our faith in Christ Jesus. What would be our gain if we are Christians here on earth but nowhere to be found in heaven and non-christians, the so called “dogs” made it.

It is a fact that Jesus has Special concern for us as Christians, just as God the Father did for the Jews in the Old Testament. But anyone who meets the criteria for admittance into heavenly kingdom would not be cast out on the ground of religion.

The first reading presents us with these criteria:
keep justice, do righteousness, join yourself to the LORD, love the name of the LORD, keep the LORD’s day holy, keep God’s commandment. (cf. Isaiah 56:1.6)

In the gospel, we see another important requirement for admittance to share in the salvation which Christ brings – that is FAITH. In the canaanite woman, we see an example of unrelenting faith. A faith that prays until something happens. A faith that believes crumbs of bread is better than nothing.

This passage also shows us that God’s salvation has universal effectiveness. Hence, we see Jesus withdrawing to the district of Tyre and Sidon, a non-Jewish territory. So the encounter between Jesus and the canaanite woman can be seen as one in which Jesus put to a very strong test the faith of this woman by employing different means to dissuade and intimidate her.

Firstly, Jesus “clicked” ignore when the woman came asking him to heal her daughter. It was not a denial; it was rather a purposeful delay that was meant to raise the level of her faith.

Secondly, Jesus brought out to the fore, the unjustifiable barrier that had been in existence among the Jews and the non-Jews; the culture and religious barriers. He made it clear that he was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  However the woman did not give up. She seemed to be saying in her mind: “you have already crossed the boundaries so nothing should stop you from attending to me!”

The next thing Jesus did following her defiance was to teasingly intimidate her by reminding her that it will be unfair to drop the food meant for children to the dogs. Not even this was enough to discourage this woman. It was at this point that our Lord turned to her and gave her a very rare title: “woman of great faith!” This is the direct opposite of the title Peter got last Sunday “Man of little faith” (Matt 14:31).


Often times, we feel that God cannot address our problem when we call upon Him and we don’t seem to get an answer; delay is not denial. That was why our Lord Jesus Christ encouraged us in Luke (18:1) to pray always and never to lose heart or despair. Instead of giving up, the woman changed her posture from standing to knelling which is an expression submission and dependence.

We can see how this woman representing the non-Christians and had great faith, while Peter representing us the Christians, the chosen ones, the children of the master had little faith; a great irony indeed. We too are often Christian by name alone and not by the quality of our faith.

Whatever your situation may be, keep faith and be righteous; your salvation is at hand. Do not give up.


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