On 17 February 2013, the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, the Evangelical fragment on the Healing of the Canaanite woman’s daughter was read in all the Orthodox churches.
In the sermon delivered in the chapel of the Patriarchal Residence with Saint Gregory the Enlightener as saint patron, His Beatitude emphasised the teaching of today’s evangelical pericope.
The Canaanite woman – a teacher for the Church
The Patriarch of Romania emphasised the fact that the Canaanite woman becomes a teacher for the faithful people, showing that her cry “God, have mercy” has become the most concise prayer of the Church.
“The 17th Sunday after the Pentecost has a Gospel fragment dealing with the healing of the Canaanite woman’s daughter who was tortured by the demons. This Gospel shows us three special virtues of the Canaanite woman, namely her strong faith, deep lowliness and insistent prayer, all the three of them stemmed from her love of grieved mother who identified her completely with her daughter’s sufferance who was tortured by the demons. We notice especially the fact that the woman, this grieved mother, becomes a teacher for all the people of faith and for the Church. Her cry: God, have mercy for me has become a prayer of the Church; the most concise prayer of the Church is: God, have mercy. This prayer includes all the merciful love, God’s mercy which is merciful and humble love for the humans”, His Beatitude said.
The Canaanite woman becomes a teacher for us due to her deep lowliness, His Beatitude said, showing that: “Maybe another person would have been offended when hearing the Saviour’s words: It isn’t right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs, but she had only one purpose, no matter how she was considered, namely to see her daughter tortured by the demons healed. Due to her lowliness stemmed from her love and sorrow she accepted to be compared to the dogs, but we see that lowliness is a source of wisdom and courage too. Lowliness is not cowardice, but knowing one’s own limits, as well as hope and confidence in the help of God, so that she answers: That is true, sir, but even the dogs can eat the leftovers that fall from their masters’ table. Seeing her qualities, Christ, our Saviour praises her saying: You are a woman of great faith! What you want will be done for you. This close relationship between living faith, deep lowliness, much patience and insistence in prayer is a vivid lesson, for the Christian, of behaviour in very hard times of their lives”.
Then, His Beatitude underlines the importance of prayer in the Christian’s life, as results from today’s Evangelical pericope: “The Gospel shows us the importance of the prayer not only for us, but also the prayer for other people, especially for those do not know how to pray, will not pray, or can no longer pray.
Having been tortured by bad spirits, lots of people sick physically or mentally, can no longer pray for themselves and then a faithful mother, father, friend, brother or sister with strong faith is very precious, so that due to their faith God heals the one who cannot pray for him anymore.”
On 24 February, the Orthodox Church will be on the 33rd Sunday after the Pentecost.