If you were looking for just three words that summed up these times in which we live, they are here in today’s Gospel:

“Lord, help me.”

The cry of the Canaanite woman is the cry of a world at the end of its rope. Pandemic, unrest, anxiety, violence, lockdowns, school closings, quarantines, the election — we don’t know what else to say.

“Lord, help me.”

Well, one of the messages of this Gospel is that the Lord does help. He hears our cries. He listens. And he listens to all of us. And it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew, or a Canaanite. It doesn’t matter if your are an outsider.

What matters is desire. Faith. Making a leap of faith.

What matters is belief.

What matters is having the courage to go beyond our comfort zone and trust that God will be there — it means having what one commenter called the “bold humility” of the Canaanite woman and not being afraid to plead your case before God.

Biblical commentators say this is the only time in Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus tells someone they have “great faith” — what a shock that must have been to the observant Jews who were following Jesus!

But it can serve as a lesson to us today, as it was a lesson to them 20 centuries ago: faith knows no bounds.

And God’s mercy recognizes that. His grace knows no borders. His door is always open to those who want to come in.

We saw that ourselves in this church just yesterday.

Last night, our parish family— and the Christian community — got a little bigger. Members of our RCIA class finally received their sacraments. They normally would have done that at Easter, but like everything else, life and a virus got in the way.  So it is with great joy that we added four new members to our church.

They are also taking a “leap of faith” — perhaps not as dramatic as the Canaanite woman, but a leap that also comes with a cry from the heart:

“Lord, help me.”

Those new Catholic Christians are saying: Lord, help me draw closer to you. Help me to understand. Help me to know peace. Help me to love.

With all of us, they pray: Lord, help me to know patience.

Help me to be brave in a time of fear.

Help me to have strength when I feel weak.

Lord, help me to be more like you.

Lord, help me to walk this journey with steadiness, with trust, and with hope.

The new members of our church are reminding us that it is a journey of faith — and I have to add, it is one that they are making with joy. You could feel it in this church last night. And joy is so much a part of this journey.

The first reading, from Isaiah, offer us this beautiful thought — it is something that Jesus exemplified in the Gospel:

“Them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

This is what God wants.

I think all of us want it, too: to be gathered together as his children. All of us, in one way or another, from whatever background, from whatever our station in life, cry out, “Lord, help me.”

Know this: he is ready to help, wherever we may be on our journey.

Wherever we may be on that journey…Pray for faith. Pray for the humble courage of the Canaanite woman, and the joyful hope of our new Catholics, and the willingness to surrender to God’s will.

May we never be afraid to come to God with this simple prayer: three words that can change our lives, that can help bring light to us in times of darkness and despair. Three words that are themselves a profession of faith:

“Lord, help me.”

Become a Patron!