Sunday reflection by Very Reverend Stephen E. Salocks, Rector of Saint John's Seminary - August 16, 2020
On the Twentieth Sunday of the Year, we begin with a prayer that acknowledges that God has prepared good things, which no eye can see, for those who love Him. The prayer of the Church asks God to fill our hearts with the warmth of His love – so that loving God in all things and above all things, we may attain promises that surpass every human desire.
All of the Scripture readings help us understand why we pray this way today. Isaiah tells us that God intends all prayers to rise to him. The Psalmist makes us understand that God expects all the nations and their people to rejoice not in their own accomplishments but in God’s gracious giving. Saint Paul reminds us that the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. The Gospel account of the Canaanite woman’s prayerful persistence before Jesus encourages us to never lose heart and, in faith, to bring to God all the events, the feelings, and the troubles of our lives – trusting that God alone has the power to transform all things into forces for good.
Doing what is right and what is just (or doing what is right and doing it in the right way) is a wonderful plan for the life of faithful discipleship before the Lord. Doing what is right begins with focusing on God’s pity, mercy, and compassion for us all. Jesus knew that and he wanted to make sure his disciples understood it as well. Jesus responded to the woman’s trust in his lordship and ability to help. Her perseverance would not be deterred by a less than immediate response, and Jesus tells her, “great is your faith!”
Today, we pray that we may never give up on God – on listening to His Word as it comes to us in Jesus and opening our hearts to his call. With God’s gracious assistance, may we continue to bring not only ourselves but also others to Him in our prayers.