Home

 
 
 

 

Sermon by Archbishop Paul of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand (Pavlov, +1995)

 

In the Name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

Beloved brothers and sisters, we who were reared since childhood in the Christian faith know the Parable of the Talents. Talents are the power of God, which is given to each person to help him, so that he could fulfill the commandments of the Lord in his life, especially the commandment of loving one’s neighbor. In today’s Gospel reading we see how we should use this talent in deed, in life. Each of us received this talent and each in his own life must increase this talent and return it to the Lord God, his Master, increased many-fold.

But sin hinders us in this. We embark upon an internal spiritual battle. The arena is our heart and our soul. In this struggle, man either forms habits and becomes accustomed to good deeds, or becomes used to everything that is repulsive to God, that is, sin. One of these habits, these qualities of Christ, is humility. The depth of this humility was shown us in today’s Gospel reading by the Woman of Canaan. She deeply suffered over her daughter and no longer knew where to seek help for her, or who could help. Suddenly she heard about Christ and began to follow Him, pleading with Him to heal her daughter. She said “Have mercy on me, Son of David. My daughter is severely demonized.” But the Lord continued as though he did not hear her pleas. He was testing her. This test was very difficult for her. She continued to cry out, so that the Disciples began to ask their Teacher to help her. But not only did He not heed the words of His disciples, but chased away the woman with the following words: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” How often does this happen to us? We ask the Lord for something and He does not seem to hear our prayers, and the Lord even seems to chase us off. And how many of us cease to pray and no longer look to our Savior for assistance.

But this is not what the Woman of Canaan did. She continued to call out to Him in hope: “Lord, help me.” But here she was subjected to an even harsher test. The Lord said to her: “It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.” It seemed that there could be no worse rejection and humiliation of human dignity. But what did the Canaanite Woman do? She said: “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." She exhibited her profound humility and humility stood victorious. The imaginary wall that stood between her and Christ crashed down, between God and the human soul. “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” And her daughter was healed at that instant. So the words that expressed her humility won over Christ the Savior Himself!

Centuries passed… and the words of the Canaanite Woman have reached us to this day, and hear them once again. These words give hope to all who have fallen into despair. What is needed? One must humble oneself. Will such humility be found in us, the humility this Woman of Canaan had? We are given talent, that is, the power of God. Let us use it, learning today from this simple Canaanite Woman, repeating her words: “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us.” Amen.