The WORD in Other Words by Fr John Cruz SVD (Philippines) for Thursday Week 5 in Ordinary Time
A Muslim Subano mother (an indigenous tribe in Mindanao) one day rushed to our parish convent in Zamboanga Sibugay with her daughter. She explained that her child was possessed by a spirit, and asked me to perform an exorcism. The teenager was fidgety, the eves had a confused look, and only spoke and understood Cebuano (not their native language).
Unsure on what to do and lacking experience in such situations, I referred this to older fellow priest. He, being the parish priest, advised the woman to go to their Imam (their priest equivalent) to pray over the teenage girl. The mother insisted we do it, since what possessed the girl was supposedly Christian (she said the Imam would be powerless over a “Bisaya spirit).
Dumbfounded (and frankly, quite amused) I prayed over the child and sprinkled holy water, knowing she would not go away unless I did something. The mother was appeased and her daughter seemed calmer. They left shortly afterwards. I prayed that the girl felt better and would no longer be bothered by “spirits.”
Today‘s Gospel presents a similar situation. A woman, a Syrophoenician by birth, came to Jesus, a Jew, for the healing of her daughter. This Greek woman and the Muslim mother implored the aid of our God for the wellbeing of their children, and were cured.
Both cases present the reality of a mother‘s love going the extra mile, especially in desperate situations. Sacrificing one‘s self for the sake of others is beyond romantic love that we celebrate today (Happy Valentine‘s Day!)
Persistence and courage in begging Jesus for healing is what freed their daughters from sickness. As Christians, can our belief in God‘s healing power compare to these women of other faith?