Thursday, October 1, 2009

Syro-Malabar Catholic Sermon,Elia-Sleeva,5thSun.


• Today’s Gospel presents before us a very interesting dialogue on faith and prayer between Jesus and the Canaanite Woman.
• She is called a Canaanite woman because she comes from Sidon which is named after the first-born son of Canaan (Gen.10.13).Jesus is in the gentile territory of Tyre and Sidon and hence the woman gets a chance to ask Him for mercy and compassion.
• Through several denials and questionings, Jesus tests the woman’s faith and each denial makes her more forceful in her request. She gives out a heart-wrenching cry: “Lord, Son of David, have pity on me.” Any one’s heart would melt at the pain and sadness expressed through her request.
• Jesus, ironically, does not grant her request right away. He keeps her waiting and she continues with much more forceful pleadings. She is not offended by the words of denial as she was sure she was standing before the Son of God. Deep beneath her persistent request is her strong faith in the power of the Lord. She has already acknowledged him as the Messiah, by calling Him the Son of David. The delay in the granting of the request gives her a greater opportunity to affirm her faith more powerfully. Finally Jesus accedes to her request, praising her great faith: “Woman, You have great faith.”
• This event opens our eyes to the nature of faith and prayer. The persistency and constancy in her prayer exemplify for each one of us the characteristics that are needed in a prayer. Perseverance, humility and trust are required in our prayer- life. Like the Canaanite woman, we can approach the Lord at any time in our life, on any occasion; the only thing that is required of us is that our hearts should be open to the will of God and that we should trust Him completely and totally.
• The Canaanite woman represents every one of us in need of God’s grace and mercy .Whatever may be our situation, when we approach Him in true humility and total dependence, He will grant our requests. His mercy is without limits. Just as He has reached out to the gentile woman, he will reach out to us, irrespective of the conditions in which we find ourselves. Obstacles, hardships and sicknesses should not deter us from approaching him. Like the woman we should be persistent in our requests to Him.
• According to St. John Chrysostom, the Canaanite woman represents every repentant sinner. Her plea resembles the plea of all of us who are sinful, frail and weak. As the Lord has healed the woman’s daughter, He would definitely heal us and remove all hardships from our lives. Today’s Gospel thus offers us tremendous comfort and hope, letting us know that the Lord will never abandon us when we approach Him in total faith and humility.
• Notes:
• Tyre and Sidon—gentile cities in Phoenicia(modern Lebanon)
• Dog: a term the Jews applied to the gentiles. Jesus is not degrading the woman but is reflecting the Jew’s attitude to the gentiles. She does not contest the use of the term: instead, agrees to be considered a gentile –a dog—as long as she could receive God’s blessings.

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