ALL SAINTS: NOTICES - SUNDAY OF THE CANAANITE WOMAN, 2024
FAITH IS FOR ALL
Here, in today's Holy Gospel (Matthew 14:14-22), we are witnesses to the faith of the Canaanite woman.
The Canaanites were a non-Hebrew people. In Luke’s Gospel the woman is referred to as a Syro-phoenician - either way she is a gentile and not a Jew.
The Jews and others, such as JWs and many protestants, think that salvation is only for the chosen few. According to the Jews gentiles were excluded from the Covenant. The Jews understood salvation as a privilege reserved only for themselves, not as a universal gift to mankind.
Judaism was a 'staging post' to the Incarnation. The Orthodox Christians are the ‘Children of Israel’, not by ethnicity but by faith and inheritance.
NO PLACE FOR RACISM
Take note! We must ensure that we do not, like the racist or the bigot, exclude our self from the new covenant by hating and excluding others; we cannot expect God to include us in His Kingdom if we exclude others. In bearing in mind Christ’s words and His deliberate action to the woman, and elsewhere to the centurion and to the Samaritan, we see that the lost sheep includes both ethnic Jews and gentiles. Under Christ, salvation is for all.
THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST
Saint Beda the Venerable says the Canaanite woman ‘had no uncertainty about [Christ’s] divine majesty’; she explicitly calls Him υἱὸς Δαυίδ, ‘Son of David’ – she acknowledges Him as Messiah, and declares His divinity. She asks Him for mercy – Ἐλέησόν με. Mercy in this context is something only granted by God. And she addresses Him as Κύριος, ‘Lord’, not simply a respectful address; one would not ask for mercy from the local mayor, for example! And more emphatically, we read - προσεκύνει αὐτῷ - ‘she worshipped Him’, she venerated, prostrated, before Him. Worship is something done only to God. And of course the local mayor, can never grant merciful healing!! Christ speaks and the woman's daughter is healed.
In begging Christ for help, the woman manifests a deep humility, she allies herself with the hungry puppies, on all fours before the master; in asking for help, the person is opened, the heart is enlightened.
Humility is a prerequisite for salvation. We see that at first Christ does not even answer her. He does not act immediately and when He speaks He speaks harshly to the woman, not out of cruelty but to point out a deeper truth. Christ is testing her resolve by keeping her waiting, He is deepening the mercy in the hearts of His disciples and giving them an opportunity to see the remarkable faith and perseverance of this gentile woman. And at the same time, He is not allowing the Jews an opportunity of accusing Him of giving preferential treatment to gentiles. Christ, of course, is above the prejudice of the Jews for He knows from within that a God who operates within parameters of race or colour cannot genuinely be God, for true God has no limitations on His actions. As Holy Scripture tells us τὸ Πνεῦμα ὅπου θέλει πνεῖ: the breath of God is felt where God pleases (cf. John 3:8). As well as humility the woman has great patience; she endures indignity; she is a model – an eikon – of faith and devotion and motherhood. She ‘bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things’ (cf. 1 Korinthians 13.7). Christ’s way is the way of humility. We must constantly try to acquire humility. We note that Christ is self-emptying, even to the point where He informs us that it is the faith of the individual that heals - the blind, the leper, the possessed, the woman with the issue of blood, the adulterous woman – the transfiguration of healing is activated from within. All can move mountains if we truly have faith.
Father Serafim Batiugov says that ‘Humility is constant prayer, faith, and hope, it is the love of a trembling heart which has given itself up to God. Humility is the door which opens the heart and renders it capable of experiencing the spiritual life.’
Like blind Vartimaios, the Canaanite woman’s prayer is genuine, it is pure prayer, from the depths of the heart. Her request is not for herself. She is humble, her faith is great, and her desire is granted.
All that we can be assured of receiving from God is His mercy; and, as Saint Symeon of Thessaloniki states – mercy is all we can ever justifiably ask of God.
ALL GLORY TO GOD!
All who sang, helped, served, provided food & drink, prayed- our sincere thanks.
All who baked cake, brought gifts, made donations.
Crina - for the gift of silver-white vestments.
Vasile - for carpark supervision.
Cristian - for clothes for the womens' refuge
Birthdays: Father Jakob, Andreas, Ecaterina. Many years!
YOUR HOLY PRAYERS
For suffering Orthodox Christians: in particular, those in Ukraine, Kosova and Gaza.
FOR MEN TO SERVE IN OUR PARISH. WE ESPECIALLY REQUIRE A TONSURED READER.
Christos - unwell.
Valentina - for strength and good health!
With love in Christ God,
sinner and unworthy presbyter
Please feel free to share this online and with your family & friends
LOOKING AHEAD -- TWELVE GREAT FEASTS
To help you plan ahead, for those of you who are able to take time off work, etc., here are the dates of GREAT FEASTS for the year ahead.
These are dates upon which we should try to be in Church (sadly, many of us do not always have this choice).
These are days upon which the Divine Liturgy should be served at All Saints. Servers, singers, helpers- please do whatever you're able.
14th SEPTEMBER -- EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS
21st NOVEMBER -- ENTRY OF THE THEOTOKOS INTO THE TEMPLE
25th DECEMBER -- NATIVITY OF CHRIST
6th JANUARY -- HOLY THEOPHANY
2nd FEBRUARY -- PRESENTATION OF OUR LORD IN THE TEMPLE
25th MARCH -- HOLY ANNUNCIATION
17th APRIL -- ENTRY OF OUR LORD INTO IERUSALM*
5th May -- HOLY PASCHA*
13th JUNE -- HOLY ASCENSION*
24th JUNE -- HOLY PENTEKOST*
6th AUGUST -- HOLY TRANSFIGURATION
15th AUGUST -- HOLY DORMITION
[ * The dates of these feasts vary from year to year. ]
ORTHODOXY 101 : ATTENDING THE DIVINE LITURGY
Christianity is experiential; it is not just 'read about', it must be lived. The Holy Eucharist is at the centre of our worship, at the centre of our Life in Christ.
We come to the Church, we remain in the Church in order that our souls be saved. That is all. It is our soul's salvation - there is nothing else.
The Holy Services are a store-house of spiritual treasures. To be saved, we need to gain knowledge of ourselves. We do this by discovering our sins and weaknesses, and by fighting against their pull. Our faith is war on personal pride. When our pride is wounded in the course of Church life, we should thank God!
We fight best when we are supported. For support we have the Holy Gospels; the Holy Fathers, their Lives and Teachings; we have God and we have each other.
The Church Community (both living and departed) is our Family in Christ. Our God is LOVE. And we are giving of our best, when we give love to God and to each other.
The Holy Eucharist is the body and Blood of Christ. It is life itself, it is Salvation. It is our treasure: "Where your treasure is there will your heart be also"(Matthew 6:21). We spend time with - we are attentive to - the people, the things we love the most.
Canon LXXX (Sixth Oecumenical Council) reads, "A cleric or layman shall not go three consecutive Sundays without attending church, unless some necessary business requires him to leave his town. The usual penalties apply: deposition for a cleric; excommunication for a layman".
It is not always possible to come to every holy service, but our good practice, and simple good manners, is to notify the priest of our absence, or if we have moved away. Notification demonstrates love and humility, and allows the priest and community to pray for us, for example - when we are sick.
We pray for those who are absent from the divine services for legitimate reasons. The others, who come infrequently or have not attended for long periods, have become prodigal sons, wanderers. They have distanced themselves from Christ and from their Christian family. Their love has become luke-warm. A full and proper return to Church requires a full and proper repentance, taking responsibility for our failings.
Church life is about responsibility. It is about stepping up and being adult. This is done by singing, standing throughout the holy services, fasting, making regular confession, reading in Church, serving, cleaning and tidying, cooking, reading the morning and evening prayers every day, preparing properly for confession and communion. Above all it is about praying.
To be blunt, Church (parish) life is about giving time and money to the glory of God. Church life is about commitment. Without commitment, we will never become deeply Orthodox or even remain Orthodox.
Love of God and love of neighbour are entwined. We cannot love God if we do not love our neighbours, especially our fellow Christians; and we cannot love our neighbours if we do not love God (1 John 4:20).
We spend time with God, we spend time with each other. We do so not because we feel 'obliged' or even because we 'want to' but simply because our heart draws us, and we follow Christ's new commandment (Luke 10:27): "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself".
AΓAΠH = CARITAS = CHARITY = LOVE
John 4:16: Ὁ Θεὸς ἀγάπη (koine Greek) = Deus caritas est (Latin) = God is Love (English)
GIVING TO OTHERS
All glory to God! Our small parish has been able in little ways to help the poor, offer love to the stranger, to help heal the wounded.
This past year we received £2,000 back from the UK government. Our parish trustees have authorised this and future monies raised through giftaid to be passed on to our poorer neighbours. If more of us donated by giftaid we could do even more to help the poor, the wounded, and the marginalised who are our neighbours.
'HOW CAN I HELP?'
Every penny helps! Donate to our parish via gift aid. If you pay tax in the UK you can use giftaid. It's free, it's easy, and as you can see above, it helps us to help others. The UK government pays us back for what you give to us via gftaid. This is the only official help that UK charities receive.
Our hope and ambition is that every penny given to us by you comes through giftaid.
LAZAROS, OUR NEIGHBOUR
The dying Lazaros is lying outside our door (Luke 16:20). We Christians have a duty of care (John 21:17), this is a constant in our life (Matthew 26:11), we must not ignore him (1 John 3:17). Let us do all that we are able to help to help our neighbour (John 15:12). May I ask you - please make a start, and donate to the parish by giftaid.
CHRIST IS RISEN!
In the Risen Lord,
Presbyter, All Saints North Benfleet