The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Who are you?

I am going to share a story from Matthew’s gospel that is relevant for today’s news.

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21-28

Two questions come to me.

Was Jesus a racist?

Who am I in the story?

The story is a challenge to every Jewish man. A woman is coming to Jesus.
Not just any woman but a woman who came from a group of people who were despised by Jews. Her people and the Jews had been enemies for over a thousand years. Here she was coming with a request; “Have mercy on me!”

The disciples had an immediate reaction: “Send her away!” Apparently, they were irritated by her shouting as much as they were by who she was. You can almost imagine them patronizing her as well. “Just be quiet. Be patient. Be nice. If you wait long enough….”

Jesus joins the disciples: “I wasn’t sent to you and your people. I was sent to the Jews.”

She persists and kneels before Jesus: “Lord, help me.”

Jesus pulls out some folk knowledge. Apparently, it was a common saying among Jews: “it not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs?” The question is rhetorical. Of course, not. You don’t take food meant for children and give them to dogs. Remember, in Jesus’ time, in Jewish culture if you wanted to insult someone you called them “a dog.” Some scholars think that Jesus’ response was a test. Would she walk away or bear the insult?
The woman responded with an astute observation: “Even dogs get to eat the crumbs that all from their masters’ tables.” She is saying, “All I am asking is for a crumb of your mercy.”

Jesus grants her request.

Do you and I ever act like those disciples? Do we choose who we think should be able to approach Jesus? Do we have a list of people in mind that we doubt can receive God’s mercy? The disciples thought they were protecting Jesus from this woman. They were gatekeepers. I know churches that are filled with people who think Jesus needs protecting.

Do you and I ever feel that we are like this woman. We are on the outside looking in. We see the joy of God’s mercy and love. We exclude ourselves. We talk ourselves out of coming closer. We say things like, “I don’t have the right clothes. I come from the wrong people. I am not the right race. I come from the wrong family. My life is a mess. I have done terrible things.”

As much as the woman’s daughter needed a healing, the disciples needed healing.

Ronald Friesen © 2017

Roots of Fruitful Action

      I invite you to reflect on this quote:

"Action relies upon contemplation for its fruitfulness; and contemplation, in its turn, as soon as it has reached a certain degree of intensity, pours out upon our active works some of its overflow. And it is by contemplation that the soul goes to draw directly upon the Heart of God for the graces which it is the duty of the active life to distribute. And so, in the soul of a saint, action and contemplation merge together in perfect harmony to give perfect unity to his life."
— Dom Jean-Baptist Chautard, Soul of the Apostolate, p. 62
One of the reasons most social action movements or people who feel they are called to action quickly die is that they are built on the wrong foundation. Most people are reacting out of their emotional response to a given situation; their reaction is not birthed out of a place of reflection and contemplation. Long lasting social change must be born out of a season of reflection and contemplation. When that contemplation is focused on the Creator and Source of life, the action has eternal energy and vigor. Anything less is a knee-jerk reaction.
Ronald Friesen @ 2017

Friday, August 11, 2017


"We trust ourselves to a doctor because we suppose he knows his business. He orders an operation which involves cutting away part of our body and we accept it. We are grateful to him and pay him a large fee because we judge he would not act as he does unless the remedy were necessary, and we must rely on his skill. Yet we are unwilling to treat God in the same way! It looks as if we do not trust His wisdom and are afraid He cannot do His job properly. We allow ourselves to be operated on by a man who may easily make a mistake—a mistake which may cost us our life—and protest when God sets to work on us. If we could see all He sees we would unhesitatingly wish all He wishes."
— Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, p. 90

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


"A sculptor who wishes to carve a figure out of a block uses his chisel, first cutting away great chunks of marble, then smaller pieces, until he finally reaches a point where only a brush of hand is needed to reveal the figure. In the same way, the soul has to undergo tremendous mortifications at first, and then more refined detachments, until finally its Divine image is revealed. Because mortification is recognized as a practice of death, there is fittingly inscribed on the tomb of Duns Scotus, Bis Mortus; Semel Sepultus (twice died, but buried only once). When we die to something, something comes alive within us. If we die to self, charity comes alive; if we die to pride, service comes alive; if we die to lust, reverence for personality comes alive; if we die to anger, love comes alive."
— Fulton J. Sheen, Peace of Soul, p. 219