Sunday, February 6: “Lord, help me!”

THE ELEVENTH EOTHINON GOSPEL

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint John 21:14-25

At that time, Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead, and said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my lambs.” A second time Jesus said to him, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him a third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (This was said to show by what death Peter was to glorify God.) And after this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to His breast at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow Me!” The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself contain the books that would be written. Amen.

THE EPISTLE

The Reading from the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians 6:16-7:1

Brethren, we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from them, and be separate from them,” says the Lord, “and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God.

THE GOSPEL

The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus went to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” But He did not answer her one word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

ORTHROS

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

From the heights Thou didst descend, O compassionate One, and Thou didst submit to the threeday burial, that Thou might deliver us from passion; Thou art our life and our Resurrection, O Lord, glory to Thee.

APOLYTIKION FOR ST. JULIAN OF HOMS

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O holy passion-bearer and healing physician Julian, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of sins.

APOLYTIKION OF THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST

Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace, for from thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God, lighting those who are in darkness. Rejoice and be glad, O righteous elder, carrying in thine arms the Deliverer of our souls, Who granteth us Resurrection.

DIVINE LITURGY

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION IN TONE THREE

rom the heights Thou didst descend, O compassionate One, and Thou didst submit to the three-day burial, that Thou might deliver us from passion; Thou art our life and our Resurrection, O Lord, glory to Thee.

APOLYTIKION OF THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace, for from thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God, lighting those who are in darkness. Rejoice and be glad, O righteous elder, carrying in thine arms the Deliverer of our souls, Who granteth us Resurrection.

APOLYTIKION FOR ST. JULIAN OF HOMS

O holy passion-bearer and healing physician Julian, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of sins.

THE APOLYTIKON OF THE PROTECTION OF THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS

Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and prophets rejoice together, since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God!

KONTAKION OF THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST

Thou, O Christ God, Who by Thy Birth, didst sanctify the Virgin’s womb, and, as is meet, didst bless Simeon’s arms, and didst also come to save us; preserve Thy fold in wars, and confirm them whom Thou didst love, for Thou alone art the Lover of mankind.

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Woman of Canaan

Matthew 15: 21-28

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Matthew by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

21-23. Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region, and cried unto Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a demon. But He answered her not a word. Why did He not allow the disciples to go by way of the Gentiles [Mt. 10:5], while He Himself went to Tyre and Sidon, which were Gentile cities? Learn then, that He did not go there to preach, since, as Mark says, He hid Himself [Mk. 7:24]. But rather, when He saw that the Pharisees had not accepted His words about food, He went to the Gentiles. The woman said, “Have mercy, not on my daughter, who is unconscious, but on me who am suffering and experiencing these terrible things.” And she did not say, “Come and heal,” but Have mercy. He did not answer her a word, not out of contempt, but to show that He had come, in the first place, for the Jews, and to shut the mouths of those Jews who might later slanderously accuse Him of doing good to Gentiles. He also refrained from answering her so that He might reveal the persevering faith of the woman.

23-24. And His disciples came and besought Him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But He answered and said, I am sent only unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The disciples were oppressed by the cry of the woman and so begged Christ to send her away. They did this, not out of a lack of compassion, but rather with the desire to persuade the Lord to have mercy on her. But He said, “I am sent only unto to the Jews, who are lost sheep because of the wickedness of those shepherds to whom they have been entrusted.” In this manner He discloses more fully the faith of the woman.

25-27. Then came she and fell prostrate before Him, saying, Lord, help me. But He answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Yea, Lord: yet even the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. When the woman saw that her advocates, the Apostles, had not succeeded, again she approaches fervently and calls upon the Lord.

Christ speaks of her as a dog, because the Gentiles led an unclean life and were involved with the blood of meat sacrificed to idols, while the Jews He speaks of as children. But she answers wisely and indeed profoundly, “Even though I am a dog and not worthy to receive a loaf of bread, that is, a mighty act and a great sign, nevertheless grant this to me which is a small thing by comparison with Thy power, though to me it is great. For crumbs are not large in the eyes of those who eat loaves, but to dogs they are large, and they feed on them.”

28. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. Now Jesus shows the reason why He put off healing her at the beginning: So that the faith and understanding of the woman might be made manifest, Christ did not immediately give His assent at the beginning and even drove her away. But now when her faith has been revealed she hears the words of praise, Great is thy faith. By saying, Be it unto thee even as thou wilt, Christ showed that if she had not had faith she would not have obtained her request. So, too, if we desire to obtain something, nothing prevents us from obtaining what we desire. Notice that even if saints should ask on our behalf, as the Apostles did for the woman, still, we accomplish even more when we ask for ourselves. The Canaanite woman is also a symbol of the Church gathered from among the Gentiles. For Gentiles who first were even driven away, later were advanced to the rank of sons and were deemed worthy of the Bread, I mean, the Body of the Lord; while the Jews became dogs, thinking that they were being fed by the crumbs, that is, the minute and insignificant details of the letter of the law. Tyre means “besieged,” Sidon, “they who hunt,” and Canaan, “made ready by humility.” Therefore, the Gentiles, who were besieged by evil in that the demons were among them hunting for souls, were also made ready by humility. For the ighteous were made ready for the heights of the kingdom of God.