15 March 2020

posted 13 Mar 2020, 07:55 by C S Paul

15 March 2020

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

Fourth Sunday of Great Lent (Canaanite woman)

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Matthew 15:21-31 King James Version (KJV)

21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

22 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.

23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.

27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.

28 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.

29 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.

30 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them:

31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

Faith of the Canaanite Woman

by Fr. Andrew

What can we say about the faith of the Canaanite woman?

As a Canaanite woman she is a lower class citizen in two ways: she is a woman and comes from a backward people. There is very little hope for a person like this - few people, if any, treat her with respect. This might seem forward to us today in our world of information and telephones, but even today, in India and China, baby girls are being aborted simply because they are girls, and many people struggle to be accepted because of their country of origin.

Yet despite the odds stacked against her, she pushes toward the front the crowd, probably struggling against the various villagers telling her to be still, quiet, and to keep her thoughts to herself. Soon she cries out "Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon." What a personal revelation, instead of protecting herself, puffing herself up, she reveals her weakness! Her daughter, her dear one is afflicted by a demon.

Jesus' refusal isn't callous, cold, or cruel, but a statement of his mission at that time. The Canaanite woman pushes herself forward. Jesus' response may seem cruel, but it is a description of his mission to the People of Israel that precedes his mission to the rest of the world after his Resurrection. He uses an analogy and says "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs."

Her response is beautiful. We might be put off, we might protest and walk away- but her faith endures and she says, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." And then our Lord heals the woman's daughter.

So what is our lesson today? What can we say about our faith?

There are many people and politicians who say that faith should be private. Maybe even some of us here believe that our faith should not influence the rest of our lives. None of us doubt that our faith should be personal: intensely touching everything that makes us who we are, just like this Canaanite woman. But what if that Canaanite woman had kept her faith silent and private? What if she had separated her faith from her outward life? This spring and this lenten season is a new beginning. What miracle, what justice does our Lord look to accomplish through your personal and public faith?

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