Sometimes God waits. Sometimes He doesn't give us an answer right away in order to test our faith. It can be hard to take but it ultimately helps us to live closer to Him.
Saturday morning (yesterday) in Chicago for a wedding of a high school buddy and a wonderful lady from Louisiana, I ran from the hotel to my uncle's coffee shop. Since he was gone, I had a nice little talk with one of the baristas. I told her I was a priest etc, and she asked the question about how I felt about not marrying. I've shared my thoughts on it as I have many times before, and finished it with a funny quote I've heard from another priest. When a married man asked him about how he could do that, the priest made it very easy to follow. He said, "Think of it this way: when you got married, you said no to every other woman in the world except your wife. Well when I got ordained, I said no to every other woman in the world, and your wife."
But this is in fact a serious question for anyone discerning their future vocation: is God calling me to a fruitful love in married life or in a life of consecrated celibacy?? For me I always felt like I could be celibate or married - I could be happy in either way of life and God could help me to live both freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully.
In seminary, this was a long, slow question for me. It felt like forever.
I wanted an answer, but it really took me years to get to that point of saying, "Yeah, I think this is what God wants me to do."
Years. Waiting for years for one of the most important decisions of your life is not fun. It eventually demands a lot of dying, of abandoning to what you want, your plans and timeline, and finally realizing in a deep way that you have to let God be God because you are not.
I would say that is my point today and one of the messages of today's gospel. This Gospel seems tough for our western ears to hear because it seems Jesus is treating this woman like dirt. But he is not, really. He is just testing her faith. She is a pagan who is more a true Israelite than many of the Jews. Paul in Romans is very interested in how the Gentiles are saved, and we see the same dynamic in the Gospel: Jesus came for the Jews first, and later the Gospel will go to the pagans. But this woman shatters those typical lines that we draw, as she manifests a faith greater than so many others. As her words don't earn an immediate response but only bring on a nagging sense of unworthiness and dismissal, she perseveres. She gets louder until she gets a response. She is a true member of Israel.
I'm sure many of you had to wait and wait for an answer to a deep question in your life. Does that mean that God doesn't care? No. Does it mean that you should just drop the subject? No. It means you are invited to place an even deeper trust and faith in Him. A simple faith that says, like the woman today: "Lord, help me." Here is where I am hurting or in need. Please, do what you will. I know you know best.
If you can do that, then the Lord will indeed respond to your request - in His own time, in His own way. But it will bring you closer to Him and therefore closer to your true happiness.