Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
"The Syro-Phoenician Woman And Jesus"
- February 10, 2011
Both these supplicants begged Jesus for a healing and both asked with humble faith. Not only were both their wishes granted, but their attitude of perseverance was praised, as they stood out in marked contrast to both the disciples - the āmen of little faithā- and the Jewish establishment .
The woman is initially ignored by Jesus, but she persists in her pleas. The disciples are irritated by her persistence, and beg Jesus to ādo something to get rid of herā. Jesus dismisses the womanās right to a miracle. He says āI was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and to them aloneā. And he even ridicules her petition. But this exchange doesnāt dishearten the woman; it only increases her faith. She comes back with the riposte: āeven the dogs eat the scraps which fall from their masterās tableā. Itās probably the only recorded instance of a woman having the last word with Jesus - and getting her way with him!
Jesusās final word of appreciation to her is: āWoman, what faith you have! Be it as you wish!ā
Scattered throughout the pages of the Gospel are these āone linersā, these prayers of faith, the prayers of the plain men and women who encountered Jesus. What they beg for comes straight from the heart. They usually ask for a boon, or intercede for a dear one. Their cries are incessant, in spite of the shooing and booing of the passers by. The classic āplain manāsā prayer, repeated in this episode too, is that of the blind Bartimaeus, a great favourite of St. Francis Xavier: āJesus, son of David, have mercy on me!ā
In our times of depression and sadness, in our times of abject need, let us make these prayers our own.