MEMORIAL OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.”
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.
Happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.
The Lord bless you from Zion. May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Our first reading from Genesis describes Woman as the helper of Man. As such, she occupies a space of dignity in creation, being God’s gift to complete humanity. God saw that it was not good for Man to be alone on this earth, so he created Woman to be a suitable partner for Man. This relationship is most clearly demonstrated in the marriage covenant, where one man and one woman join to become one. Together they bear the cross of their lives. Together they bring children into the world. Together they live as a daily sacrifice to God.
But even outside of the marital relationship, Woman’s role as helpmate remains the same. Just as one woman serves as a helpmate to one man, so The Woman, conceived without sin, is the helpmate to all of humanity. The Blessed Mother, who, by virtue of her receiving the Word of God as her Son, became the new Eve, the new mother of all the living. She is an example to all women how all women are called to be helpmates to broken humanity, to bring Christ to our broken world.
There is no greater example of this spiritual aid, this intermediary between the mortal and the divine, than the Syrophoenecian woman in the Gospel. This woman did not have any special help to know God. She was conceived in original sin like the rest of us. She was not raised to know God. She was not born into God’s covenant with Abraham. She had no basis for understanding why Jesus had come. But she could recognize the power of God. She could recognize the good. She could recognize that Jesus had the power to heal her little daughter. So the woman goes as intercessor for her daughter. She humbles herself before the Lord, asking for the littlest crumb of his mercy. She demonstrates a great trust, not in her own worthiness, but in the greatness of God’s mercy, and the compassion in his character. This faith and trust allowed Jesus to work in her life, even though she was not one of the people to whom he was sent. Her intercession, her humility, and her trusting in the Lord helped to bring God’s grace and healing into more of his creation. This is what it means to be helpmate to humanity. Let us pray that all women rediscover this vocation as helpmate, and always turn to the Lord in humility and trust. Let us pray that all men learn how to receive this help, that they may come to know God more and more through their relationships. Let us pray that together, all men and women may come to know God and be converted to him.