Movie Connection

Word Sunday

The Pursuit of Happiness


The Canaanite

(Mt 15:21-28)
YouTube player
YouTube player

Unwavering Determination Despite Insurmountable Challenges

Sacrificial Love

In the Gospel for the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A), a Canaanite woman approaches Jesus, seeking healing for her daughter.

The movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006) tells the inspiring true story of Chris Gardner, and his unwavering determination to overcome hardships and obstacles for the sake of his son.

Both stories effectively portray sacrificial love. Both the Canaanite woman and Chris Gardner display sacrificial love for their loved ones. The former seeks healing for her daughter, while the latter tirelessly works to provide a better life for his son. Their selflessness is evident in their willingness to go to great lengths to ensure the well-being of their family. 

Faith and Perseverance

In Matthew 15:21-28, the Canaanite woman demonstrates unwavering faith in Jesus’ ability to heal her daughter, persistently pleading for His intervention. She approaches Jesus, pleading for the healing of her demon-possessed daughter. Despite initially dismissing her, Jesus recognizes the woman’s faith and grants her request. 

Chris Gardner’s journey in the movie is marked by his unyielding faith in his own abilities and determination to succeed. Despite countless setbacks, he refuses to give up, embodying the essence of perseverance. He holds onto hope despite facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. He remains determined to improve his life and provide a better future for his son, never giving up on his dreams.

Both characters exemplify the power of faith and the importance of holding onto hope, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Empathy and Compassion

Matthew 15:21-28 highlights the importance of empathy and compassion, as Jesus ultimately responds to the Canaanite woman’s plea with kindness and healing.

In the movie, Chris Gardner’s struggles evoke a sense of empathy from the audience. It prompts us to reflect on the importance of compassion towards those facing difficult circumstances.

The film encourages us to extend a helping hand to those in need, just as Jesus did in the biblical account. Both the passage and the movie demonstrate the significance of reaching out to others in their moments of distress.

The Triumph of the Human Spirit

The Canaanite woman’s encounter with Jesus in Matthew 15:21-28 challenges her faith and perseverance, ultimately leading to her daughter’s healing.

Chris Gardner’s faith in himself and his abilities enables him to overcome the numerous obstacles he encounters. His faith not only sustains him but also acts as a catalyst for his eventual success.  His journey not only leads to financial success but also transforms him into a more compassionate and resilient individual.

Thus, both stories celebrate the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity. They serve as a testament to the indomitable strength and resilience that lies within each individual. Each reminds us that the most profound growth often occurs during times of struggle and testing.

These narratives inspire us to confront our own challenges with courage, tenacity, and unwavering faith, knowing that the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment is not only possible but also within our reach.

Major Differences

While the Canaanite woman and Chris Gardner both demonstrate determination and sacrifice for the sake of their loved ones, their contexts, approaches, and outcomes differ.

The Canaanite woman’s encounter is framed within a religious context, relying on faith and divine intervention.

On the other hand, Chris Gardner’s journey focuses on personal and professional struggles, and his success is attributed to his own determination and perseverance.

Nonetheless, both stories serve as inspirations, highlighting the power of determination, sacrificial love, and the pursuit of a better life for those we care about.


The Pursuit of Happiness (2006)

20th Sunday of Year A

While these films may not be explicitly labeled as “Christian” movies, they do not exclude Christian themes or values. Not all scenes are suitable for worship or parish educational situations.

1. “The Blind Side” (2009): This film tells the inspiring true story of a wealthy white family who takes in and supports a homeless African-American teenager. It delves into themes of compassion, acceptance, and challenging societal prejudices.

2. “Hidden Figures” (2016): Based on a true story, this movie follows the lives of three African-American women who played crucial roles in NASA’s space program during a time of racial segregation. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing and valuing the abilities and contributions of all individuals, regardless of race or gender.

3. “Hotel Rwanda” (2004): Set during the Rwandan genocide, this film depicts the true story of a hotel manager who risks his life to protect refugees. It explores themes of empathy, selflessness, and the inherent worth of all human beings.

4. “Gran Torino” (2008): Starring Clint Eastwood, this movie focuses on a Korean War veteran who forms an unlikely friendship with a young Hmong boy. It addresses themes of racism, redemption, and the power of personal transformation.

5. “The Help” (2011): Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett, this film tells the story of African-American maids working in white households during the Civil Rights era. It explores themes of racial inequality, courage, and the importance of standing up against injustice.