The Canaanite woman in the Gospel probably is not so much of a figure to many of us today, for one reason or another. But not so in the past. In fact, in the old Latin rites of the mass (Tridentine Mass), there is a liturgical part that would remind people of her — the Kýrie, eléison (Lord, Have Mercy). The prayer Kýrie, eléison is Greek NOT Latin. This foreign language phrase has been preserved in the Latin Rite for centuries surely for a reason. It reminds people of the phrase uttered by the Canaanite Woman in Mathew 15:22 “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David.”
The Canaanites are the “foreigners” termed by Prophet Isaiah in the first reading. St. Paul called them the “Gentiles”. During the time of Jesus, they were called “dogs” by the Jews. Why were they so much hated by the Jews? It’s a long history of hatred but basically, they were people occupying the abandoned Israelites’ Promised Land, inherited from Abraham. Joshua led the battle of Jericho fighting the Canaanites to reclaim their heritage (Joshua 6:1-27). These Canaanites are the today’s Philistines. No wonder there have been never-ending wars between these two nations!
Jesus’ attitude in the Gospel didn’t reflect him at all but gives us some insights on why the Israelites and the Canaanites have been in enmity for a very long time. Nevertheless, at the end of the Gospel story, Jesus commended her great faith. He even granted her request and healed her daughter. Do we have faith like the Canaanite woman?
I was in St. Paul, Bisuang last Sunday to celebrate mass and also to have a meeting with the Ad Hoc Committee for the ongoing project there, namely the building of a new Chapel. The present chapel is in a bad shape, so it is timely for the community. In that regard, we are blessed to have a very generous donor who is willing to sponsor the construction of the chapel. However, in times to come, we would still need to find sponsors for the pews, altar, ambo, vestments and even the sacristy. To think about all these needs is a headache not just for the community in Bisuang, but also for me. Reflecting on the Canaanite woman story, I believe God has something to tell us – He wants me (and the Bisuang Catholic Community) to remember that the good Lord will always have mercy on those who ask with faith. I am sure I’ll be coming back to this phrase again in the future.
On pastoral matters , there are three things I would like to highlight here :
[ 1] Rosary and Prayer during Covid-19 pandemic, Peace and Stability in Sabah. His Grace the Archbishop John Wong has instructed all faithfuls in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu to pray in the company of Mother Mary for Covid-19 Pandemic and also for peace and political stability in Sabah. For our parish, we will start in the month of September until the Election Day on September 26. Kindly, please find the Archbishop’s pastoral letter in this website. The format of the rosary prayer is available in English, Bahasa Malaysia and Kadazan.
 Parish Tribunal Office. We are engaging a marriage tribunal staff to work part time at our Parish Mission Office starting September 2020. The staff will be available on every Monday and Wednesday afternoon for marriage tribunal enquiries. Any parishioner who needs assistance may be filling up the online form to book an appointment. We will create a tribunal column in the Parish Website soon so that people will understand the functions of marriage tribunal better.
 Online Choir and Short Video Competition in conjunction with 130 Years Celebration of the Good News in Penampang. We are supposed to have a grand celebration of the 130 Years of the coming of the Good News in our parish. However, due to the current situation , we have to be contented with just a simple program to mark the day. This program will be organised by the Parish Youth Team Ministry (TPBP).
Let’s continue to pray and have faith that all these pastoral matters will be in accordance to God’s plan.
Fr. Wilfred Atin