It’s been a while now, actually a lot of years. I have been “casting my eyes” on the daily readings of the Church for about forty years or so. Because of that I have been encouraged to do things, empowered to say things and moved to change my thinking. It’s been good and endlessly challenging. That’s what scripture is supposed to do. The Gospel writers and wisdom of the Church teach us that. Veiled in that adventure, though are some clear regrets. The regrets are not mine but for all of the other Catholics who do not read the Bible or say things like: “The Bible, too hard, too old, too complicated, I don’t have time for that.”
This is classic “spiritual bait”, the enemy convincing us that one of the richest and most amazing sources of growing our faith is not worth the time or effort. Scripture contains: instruction, witness, miracles, example, life advice and spiritual provocation, right in front of our eyes. All for free!
You may not realize it but much or scripture presents with a challenge, a provocation to be a better you. Jesus himself does this in several instances. He carefully choses who to aggravate only because he “knows” the person will be better for the challenge. So if you have ever been frustrated by Jesus’ instruction/challenge to you, congratulations. For instance, we know that as God of the universe He could make any arrangements, healings, miracles that he wanted, but why did: He allow the disciples to fail at curing the demoniac, or raise Lazarus with his wrappings still intact or leave Zacchaeus up a tree before addressed him, or gave a sassy answer to the Syrophoenician woman who was literally begging for her daughter’s freedom from a demon. Like the frustration one can feel at being brushed aside because the person we are with wants to talk to someone more important, this woman was pretty much ignored. She was a foreigner and I’d bet that she couldn’t have felt more frustrated at finally being near the great and compassionate healer only to be dismissed by his incredibly rude barb:
“It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”
Why, now what, how do you recover when God Himself treats you that way? In the way of today’s world this would have been one of those massively reported incidents that appeared ad nauseum in the tabloids: “Jesus insults follower with cutting remark.” Or something like that. I suppose that the woman would have been justified in leaving and telling all of her friends and neighbors what a “jerk” this Jesus really is. Today that would be the fodder for hot gossip. But she was not detoured, she had a greater purpose, the healing of her daughter. Rather she picked herself up, regrouped and asked again:
How many times have you quit in the pursuit of a blessing because your ego has been crushed, insulted or disappointed? How many times have you pouted because the Lord didn’t respond the way you thought He should. Sometimes the Lord says no, but sometimes the Lord says be braver or think a different way. What, you expected that this spiritual journey thing would be simple? Not if you want the most that the Lord has to offer you. “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.” St. Catherine of Sienna
Copyright© 2017, Kathryn M. Cunningham