St Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church
24 Burke Road, Freehold, NJ 07728
/ Weekly Message / Weekly Message 10-09-11: Seventeenth Sunday
Weekly Message 10-09-11: Seventeenth Sunday

Seventeenth Sunday

There are many who readily admit their prayer life is not a satisfactory part of their daily living. Out of seeming habit, they pray morning and night, mumbling words while their thoughts and hearts are far from our Creator God. For them, somehow, for some reason it is most difficult to really talk with our heavenly Father in prayer and feel his powerful presence. The real reason many do not know how to pray effectively and do not want to pay the price that is expected in true prayer.

In God's revelation to us in Scripture, we find many examples of the saints, of God's holy ones who did know the secret of prayer. One of these secrets is to be persistent, to persevere in pleading with our heavenly Father. In the Old Testament, we find Abraham, that man of great and deep faith, pleading with God to save the people of Sodom and finally God goes along with him. Then there is Jacob, who is said to have "wrestled" with an angel of God all night long. This means he was on his knees in prayerful conversation. At any rate, the angel finally says, "Let me go, for the day is breaking." But Jacob answers, "I will not let you go, unless you bless me." What dynamic perseverance he showed!


Today we are offered another beautiful and compelling example of persistent prayer. This woman, too, wrestles and persists with the Lord until He finally answers her prayer. The Lord leads her, prods her, pushes her so that she achieves her purpose. At times, our Lord approached the borders of other nations where people of different nationality and religions lived, outside the periphery of revealed truth which the Jewish people uniquely enjoyed.


Today Christ comes near two Phoenician cities and soon a pagan woman, a non-believer by the judgment of Jews, approaches him crying out: "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David, for my daughter is very sick with an evil spirit."


It is the daughter who is sick, but the woman asks for mercy on "me," on herself. She thus evidences a true mother's love for her child as she makes her child's agony her own. This identification with a child's pain is the hallmark of genuine parenthood. Many who do not understand think our Lord responds strangely. He tells her He is not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. She approached the disciples before hand until they interceded with the Lord and asked him to do something about her need. Most who do not know the spirit of Scripture, of God's revelation to us, read the surface of the words and they go away dumbfounded.

Yes, the Lord is saying his mission is with the chosen people of God, but He is not saying the good work of salvation is only limited to them. He is slowly teaching her, drawing her soul to the apex and epitome of truth. If you want what is offered to the Chosen People, join the ranks of the Chosen People and enjoy the gifts freely bestowed by God.


Our Lord sees and readily recognizes in this so-called pagan woman a giftedness, an awareness, an inclination that even the Chosen People do not possess. In comparison, it would seem that teaching and encountering his own countrymen is a waste of time. He

continually invested so much effort, prayer and example among those who were gifted by God in vocation, but whose interest was superficial. They had grown immune to the richness and depth of the promises made by the Creator to them over all the centuries. They began to look upon their position as a right, not a privilege. Thus they did not fulfill the attendant obligations of being witnesses in the world as was Abraham. They were on the hand-out line of receiving undeserved blessings. That is the relationship they wanted and expected to have with Almighty God. So they ventured nothing and they gained nothing.


This woman, who by her history and nature is separated from the reality and compelling truth of God is far more spiritually elite then her Jewish contemporaries. Christ is providing a compelling example for those of the covenant of Abraham who were witnessing this event. The Lord is actually teaching her how to approach God realistically and she is no slouch of a student.


She falls to her knees and worships the Lord! Instead of her faith and hope beginning to fall and slip, it is intensified because she knows her quest is just. She worships, entreating, "Lord help me!" Unquestionably she knows it is not God who has a problem with her but she who has a problem with God because she is not a communicant of the truth of the Old Testament :hunch. She believes in Christ, She knows He can help her child and she is determined to persevere, to literally "wrestle" until the right answer falls from the merciful lips of the Saviour.


Yes it is true our Lord is somewhat rough and common in inspiring this lady to continue in her need. He is inspiring her to elevate herself and become a traveler on the boat of salvation which leads her to a safe port. She is being led to become a communicant of that richness which she seeks. If she wants a cure, she must enter the place and domicile of curing.


[ow many so called believers, even in our midst, would never persist or endure what this roman accepted. Most people would just pick up their belongings, turn around and leave. [ow many would moan God is not treating them right! But not this mother. She is mighty in

faith, mighty in perseverance. She will never give up! She is a dramatic indictment of those Jews around the Lord on that day who thought her to be a royal pain. She embarrassed them and their superficiality, their light-headedness. She knows and understands more of God's revelation to the world than do the people to whom it is being purposely and pointedly revealed.

This woman knew her position; knew she was not worthy of God's great mercy and concern. All she wanted was a crumb, not for herself, but for her child. She knew that a crumb of God's love would be more than enough. Even the most faithful believer is unworthy of the riches of heaven, but submits to the will of the Father when they are bestowed.


Astoundingly great is this woman's faith. Astounding is her education and inspiration today. Astounding is her reward. She has surpassed even believers of a lifetime, so called-cradle Orthodox.


She was possessed of an understanding of prayer. She had faith and humility as well as perseverance, the trinity of disposition so necessary before our Creator God.

©2014 St Paul The Apostle Orthodox Church. All rights reserved.