Sunday of the Canaanite Woman
Humility holds the door of God’s mercy open
In today’s gospel reading, we find a woman in great need: her daughter is horribly demon-possessed. In such situations, when you experience pain, you do things that you wouldn’t do under other circumstances. Just so, this Canaanite woman runs with determination to receive that which she seeks. First, her great faith and second, the depth of her humility, give her complete conviction that she will receive that which she desires. And her entire conversation with Christ develops gradually, in a remarkable way.
- She seeks, although it looks as though God does not hear. In reality, all holy souls come across this very difficulty (St. Silhouan the Athonite reached the point of saying: “Lord, you are implacable.”)
- Christ says something, but in a way that prohibits any such help: “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Everyone who wants to find God will feel that he is rejected by Him.) Humility makes the woman insist: “Lord, help me”. The Canaanite woman is not affected; she does not take offence. In this way, humility holds the door of God’s mercy open.
- With Christ’s final response: “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs”, one would expect the woman to get up and leave. Her faith, however, informs her and she humbly responds: “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” (When you are humble, you know what to say to the Lord.) Following the whole of this trial the Canaanite woman is made worthy to hear from the Lord: “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” He does not simply say: “Your faith has saved you …”
And what about us? I wonder, will we go down, one step at a time, just as the Canaanite woman did? Will we accept whatever the Lord permits so that we stay faithful until we receive our desired end, our salvation?
Holy Hesychasterion “The Nativity of Theotokos” Publications.
Archimandrite Symeon Kragiopoulos