The story of the Canaanite woman

30 January 2023

The Gospel reading for this Sunday tells of a Canaanite woman who asked Christ to heal her sick daughter (Matth. 15, 21-28).

The chief elements of the story are the following:

First, it appears that there was common recognition of the person of Christ as regards his divinity and his miraculous ability to heal the sick.

Second, it seems that, among the Jews, there was an assumption that their religion was restricted to their own nation. And because the first Christians were Jews, it was mistakenly assumed that only Jews could become Christians.

Third, it’s clear that, in the end, those who are deemed worthy to be heard by God aren’t the people who believe they have the right religion, but rather those who have great faith in God. Thus, the Jews believed they had the proper religion, yet, at the same time, it was they who crucified Christ. The Canaanite woman, who wasn’t a Jew and was considered an idolatress by them, was, in the end, heard by God, and her daughter was cured, because she had great faith in God. This is why Christ says to her: ‘Oh, woman, great is your faith; may it be as you wish’.

But why has the Church chosen this Gospel reading for this Sunday?

First, so that we, too, will accept the uniqueness of Christ as the one true God who can cure us of our ailments, as in the case of the daughter of the Canaanite woman.

Second, we have to accept that the Orthodox faith isn’t only for the Orthodox peoples, for the Greeks, the Russians, the Romanians or the Serbs, or only for white people. The Orthodox faith is for all peoples and all people, because they’re all children of God and they all must have the hope of salvation.

Third, it’s clear that we can be close to God only if we have real faith in Jesus Christ.

Our faith in God is true when it’s accompanied by the following characteristics:

First, when we live in accordance with the will of God, that is, in accordance with his divine commandments. God’s will is that we should remove ourselves far away from anything that damages us or harms other people. At the same time, it’s also God’s will that we should work for the good of others. We should do what we can to help them make their lives better, to guide them into God’s love with our love and interest, to protect them and, in general, to contribute in every way to their salvation in Christ.

Second, our faith is genuine when our love makes no distinctions and is expressed equally to all people, without racial or social discrimination, without self-interest or ulterior motives. We must see the people we meet on a daily basis and who need our help in the same way as we see those we love best, such as our parents, children and friends, and we should do our best for them.

Third, our faith is true when we live like our saints whose names we have.

Fourth, our faith is genuine when we’re men and women of peace, of goodness, of calmness and serenity, of tolerance, of unity, of patience, of charity, of humanity and truth. When we’re men and women of God.

God calls to his service those people who have sincerely decided to make his will the priority in their life. Those who ignore their own will and comply entirely with the will of God (Our Father who are in heaven… your will be done). So whatever they do, they do with the assistance and power of God, as did the holy people who are our saints.