Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Church

Devotional Thoughts for the Canaanite Lady's Sunday
Fourth Sunday of the Great Lent

by Jose Kurian Puliyeril

Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 15:21-31

Today's reading begins with the cry and plea of a Canaanite lady when and where she says "Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David". Though they are very simple and ordinary words, we could find great meaning in those words. First of all we must appreciate her mind to confess that Jesus Christ is her Lord. In a way she was brave enough too, in the midst of the enemies of her religion and faith. God Almighty is the source of mercy and compassion. When a person would long for mercy, he or she must be longing to God Almighty. In other words, she was admitting that Jesus is the son of God and the real savior. Secondly she says "O Lord". She openly admits that Jesus is the son of God. The Jews traditionally had believed that the savior of mankind would incarnate for their salvation. Unfortunately she was a Canaanite and as the Canaanites were forbidden from close contacts with the "children of Abraham". So it is surprising to see such a staunch faith in a gentile.

We must examine our church lives ourselves. Are we sure about the purpose in following a Church life so strictly? Or do we take seriousness about our prayer life, attendance in the Holy Sacraments including the Holy Eucharist etc. Do we feel that these rituals, traditions and the worships are unavoidably required for our spiritual growth? The Canaanite lady could realize our Lord as her Lord and Master. Let us confess in our minds everyday 'Lord Jesus, you are my Lord, God and Savior'. The Canaanite lady did not request or beseech Lord to cure her daughter. She just told "My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil". As she was so sure that Lord Jesus could cure her daughter, we all must have faith in Lord Jesus and we all must feel always that nothing is impossible to Him. The Canaanite Lady's prayer was identical to the Orthodox style of prayer. The Christian community as a whole is misguided by the thinking that God functions due to the prayers of the faithful. We are supposed to pray for others rather for ourselves. We must pray for the forgiveness of sins as well as the spiritual growth.

In verse 26 our Lord asks "It is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs". Even after listening so, the Canaanite lady did not get back. If we were in her place what would have been our attitude? If we think so, our answer would be so interesting. In Isaiah 56: 11 we read "Yea they are greedy dogs which can never have enough." Here the prophet uses the term dogs in the sense that such do not know to be satisfied. Our Lord also must have used the word 'dogs' in such a meaning and not at all to ridicule the poor lady. But the lady took the word in the same meaning known to us. So she tried to justify her prayer in a very simple and humble manner. Then only our Lord said "lady your faith is great".

We are passing through the days of the Lenten season. Let us see how much faith we have accumulated. Let us find out whether we are leading a Christian lives for our worldly gains or for our spiritual gains and the spiritual pleasure. Let us try to build up a strong spirituality. Will our God say unto us that our faith is so strong, staunch and sound? Or do we not expect such praise from our Savior and God? Let us get prepared to listen to such consoling words from our Lord God. In verse 31 we read "In so much 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. Even today God is doing the miracles among the mankind, but no one realizes them as an act of God Almighty. Our approach will be almost like the explanation of an incident mentioned below.

The train has started moving. It is packed with people of all ages, mostly with the working men and women and young college guys and gals. Near the window, seated a old man with his 30 year old son. As the train moves by, the son is overwhelmed with joy as he was thrilled with the scenery outside..

"See dad, the scenery of green trees moving away is very beautiful"

This behavior from a thirty year old son made the other people feel strange about him. Every one started murmuring something or other about this son."This guy seems to be a krack.." newly married Anup whispered to his wife. Suddenly it started raining... Rain drops fell on the travelers through the opened window. The Thirty year old son , filled with joy " see dad, how beautiful the rain is .." Anup's wife got irritated with the rain drops spoiling her new suit. Anup ," cant you see its raining, you old man, if ur son is not feeling well get him soon to a mental asylum..and dont disturb public henceforth"

The old man hesitated first and then in a low tone replied " we are on the way back from hospital, my son got discharged today morning , he was a blind by birth, last week only he got his vision, these rain and nature are new to his eyes.. Please forgive us for the inconvenience caused..."

The things we see may be right from our perspective until we know the truth. But when we know the truth our reaction to that will hurt even us. So try to understand the problem better before taking a harsh action

When we might see the miracles of our Lord God, are we also not responding as detailed above? Let us think well

May God bless us all.

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