Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Lessons on Persistence, from the Canaanite Woman

Fr. George Morelli, a member of the Western Rite Commission, has an inspiring sermon on a little-understood Gospel story: The story of the Canaanite (Syro-Phoenician) Woman (St. Matt. 15). In this Gospel, Jesus calls a Canaanite woman pleading for her daughter a dog, then tells her He is "not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel." The Fathers all agree Christ always intended to heal the woman's daughter -- and call the woman to faith in Him -- but He knew her humility, and He wanted all generations to revere and imitate her. Fr. George writes:

The Canaanite woman had to have been aware that Jesus was telling her that Jews considered her to be contemptible. But this did not stop her. She acknowledged Him as "Son of David." She was persistent and did not let obstacles [and] the insults of others stop her...Both Zacchaeus and the Canaanite woman share something in common: they are tough and resilient, and take responsibility to overcome barriers. Resilience is a psychological process of adaptation in the face of obstacles, trauma, tragedy and stress that is related to good emotional and physical health.
This message is particularly important to those in the Western Rite, who face misunderstandings and occasional hostility from misguided Byzantines. "Ugly Orthodox" tell us: "East-good; West-bad." Knowing the Orthodox Church is the Ark of Salvation, we must continue knocking until the Church rediscovers the forgotten "west wing" long dormant in Her mansion. Like this Canaanite woman, Western Christians cannot get discouraged and cannot take no for an answer.
(Hat tip: OrthodoxyToday.)

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