Sunday, August 16, 2020

A Short Sunday Sermon - The Canaanite Women

And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

I found this short reflection on Sunday's Gospel helpful (Matthew 15:21-28):

What are the cries of the Canaanite woman if not a prayer to the Lord? What is her pursuit of Him if not a pivotal point in her life where she turns to His word? Her humility, her acceptance of the fact that, yes, she was an unworthy dog who was asking only for a few crumbs as a blessing, only what was left over from the table of the masters, what is that if not repentance and confession? And the final answer of the Lord is nothing other than His open embrace, God’s acquiescence in the face of unshakeable faith.
Today’s Gospel doesn’t merely tell us about a miracle performed by the Lord. It presents us with the way to approach the Lord, the only way by which we avoid the traps of the idols of this world and are able to cast ourselves, in tears, into the embrace of our Father. It presents us with how the Father operates in order to open to us the path of return to Him, without doing away with our freedom. It presents us with the face of our Saviour. It presents us with the way in which we must open our souls to His miraculous Grace. In other words, it presents us with the feast of our salvation... (Archbishop Christodoulos (Paraskevaïdis) of Athens (1998-2008, †)

And note the final verses of the miracle. Christ identifies the pagan and possibly occultist Canaanite as a "dog" but when she admits as much, "yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table," a remarkable thing happens. The dog becomes a woman, "O woman, great is thy faith." A miracle, the last has become the first, blessed are the poor in spirit, and the demon is driven away. 

We are the spiritual heirs of this woman. By the grace of God, may the quality of her faith be our own so that we too, with her, will be raised up to the full stature of sons and daughters of God, and the evil which afflicts us banished to the Pit from whence it came.

Vade Retro,



drjim said...

Vade Retro indeed, Parson!

LSP said...

Very appropriate prayer in the present circs, drjim!

Thanks, St. Benedict.