On a journey through France with his bishop, St. Dominic came across the Albigensian heresy. The Albigensians believed in just two principles in life: good and evil. For them, anything material was evil, and so they denied the Incarnation and the sacraments. On the same principle they abstained from procreation and took a minimum of food and drink. This seems like it would be heroically ascetical, but it denied that God’s creation was good, a fundamental principle for us Catholics.
St. Dominic sensed the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and was commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He saw immediately why the preaching was not succeeding: the ordinary people admired and followed the ascetical heroes of the Albigensians. Understandably, they were not impressed by the Catholic preachers who traveled with horse and retinues, stayed at the best inns and had servants. Dominic therefore, with three Cistercians, began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He continued this work for 10 years, being successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders. Eventually, he founded his own religious order, the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans, that was dedicated to preaching the Gospel to ordinary people.
Just like the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel, who believed that even those who were not among the Jews deserved God’s grace, St. Dominic was committed to preaching the Gospel to every person. Great was that woman’s faith, and great was the faith of St. Dominic, and their faith produced abundance in the Church and in the world.
We too are called to preach to every person. We do that not just in words, but mainly by the way we live. When people see our faith at work in our actions, they may well be moved by our example to draw near to God who longs to draw near to them. As we approach the Eucharist today, may we all turn to God for the words to speak and the actions to do, that all the world may come to know that our God is merciful and the source of all grace.