If you want to get into Olympic competition, you'd better be a pretty good athlete. If you want to get into the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, you need some musical ability. If you want to get into the Miss America Pageant, you'll be greatly helped if you are good-looking and somewhat talented. But to get into the Kingdom of God, all you need is Faith - to say, "Lord, I believe," and to say this, not in words alone, but also in action, expressing Faith through life.
God wants all people to know and love him, because God desires to share His love with the whole world. The first believers were Jews. Matthew writes to Jewish community the story of Canaanite woman whose faith was admired by Jesus. In last weekend's gospel reading, Peter's prayer was condensed into three words, "Lord, save me!" In this weekend’s reading, the Canaanite woman's prayer is exactly the same. Peter was the Lord's chief disciple, the Canaanite woman was a pagan, but their prayer was the same. The question is, how could a pagan express faith when so many others were suspicious about Jesus? Faith must mean more than words and rituals. We saw Peter last week; he doubted and started to sink. It is an invitation for everyone to come to faith. Matthew was talking about the universality of faith. Isaiah, in the first reading said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” God reveals the truth that He loves and cares for everyone. In other words, we all belong to God and we all belong to one another.
In today's Gospel reading, however, Jesus appears rather reluctant to help the woman. "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" meant "I was sent to help Jews, not Canaanites." And he adds "It is not fair to throw the children's food to dogs." I don’t think Jesus was insulting the Canaanite woman, rather, he was using colloquial language to teach something new. Jews considered others lower than themselves. They called gentiles “dogs.” Jesus was telling Jews, you are the privileged people, but it not just for you. Jesus saw the faith of the Canaanite woman.
Jesus sees all that is good within the human heart. He saw the faith of the Canaanite woman. He sees your faith and my faith. He knows how we are trying our best to serve Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He loves us more than we love ourselves. On the other hand we come to worship as a community. When we worship, we are exposed to each other’s faith. We are inspired by each other’s faith. When we bring up the gifts of bread and wine in the offertory procession, it represents all that we have and all that we are. We offer these gifts to God, and He transforms them into the Body and Blood of Jesus. At the Mass we all unite in our faith. We go out from the Mass like the Canaanite woman, with gratitude and love of sharing the faith with others.