: Homily on the 17th Sunday after Pentecost

17th Sunday after Pentecost – the Canaanite Woman

Homily From “The One Thing Needful,” Sermons of Archbishop Andrei (Rymarenko)

So last Sunday’s Gospel told us that the talent is that strength which the Lord gives us to fulfill His commandments of love for God and neighbor.

In today’s Gospel the Holy Church shows us the application of this talent in deeds, in life. A talent is given to us to fulfill the commandments, but sin prevents us from fulfilling the commandment. A struggle ensues, in which we acquire the qualities of Christ. Today’s Gospel shows us one of these qualities. This is the most profound humility of the Canaanite woman.

A mother was begging for the healing of her daughter. She cried after the Lord: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a demon” (Mt. 15:22). Now see how the Lord tested her. At first, He did not answer her a word. Even His disciples could not bear it. Approaching Him, they asked Him: “Send her away, for she crieth after us” (Mt. 15:23). But here, the Lord not only continued not to pay any attention to her, but simply pushed her away. “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt. 15:24).

Doesn’t the same happen to us? At first, the Lord seems not to hear our prayer, and then through the circumstances of our life, seemingly pushes us away. And how many of us stop our prayer at this point. But not the Canaanite woman. Approaching, she bowed to Him and said: “Lord, help me” (Mt. 15:25). And the Lord? He compared her straight-out with a dog: “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs” (Mt. 15:26). It is impossible to put a human being lower. And she agreed. “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (Mt. 15:27).

Here is accomplished the victory of humility; here crumbles the illusory wall between the Lord and the Canaanite woman. “O woman, great is thy faith: be it done unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour” (Mt. 15:28).

“Yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” These words of the woman have passed through all the centuries, reaching us this day; and they give hope to all those who are completely without hope. It is up to us to profit from them or neglect them. Can we humble ourselves as that woman humbled herself? The talent is given to us; and if so, that means –  yes, we can! The only thing is that we must want to accept such a measure of humility.

Brothers and sisters! Let us accept it! Then we will hear the answer of the Lord: “Be it done unto thee even as thou wilt!”