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St Nektarios Parish Newsletter 11-02-19

Dear all.

Gospel Reading

  • Yesterday’s gospel reading of the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21 – 28) is at first difficult to reconcile with the teachings of Christ. Christ exhorts us to care for neighbour; to love neighbour; to provide neighbour and to have compassion for neighbour. Yet, here he is beseeched by a mother for her child; “have mercy on me O Lord, son of David! My daughter is severely demon possessed”. The response of Christ?: “He answered her not a word.” Why did Christ disregard her plaint?
  • The key to understanding this periscope must lie in the word “persistence”. Each of us are challenged in daily life by myriad of problems both big and small. Our modern world runs at an ever increasing pace. Today’s innovation is tomorrow’s junk. We are bombarded with all manner and form of information so that our ability to focus on something has atrophied. We really do live in the age of “the 30  second news grab.” I think it is the same with prayer and reflection about God. Our thoughts to the divine are now considered antiquated and irrelevant. We may say our “30 seconds prayer” but if we do not have immediate results we become distracted and deflated. We think God does not exist. We no longer rely on God but rather on Dr “Google”.
  • This woman was persistent: ” Lord help me!” She pleaded to which Christ responded: “it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs”. If someone said that to us today in response to our plea we would sniff in indignation and walk away. Yet, this woman responded from the depths her faith: “yes Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters table.” The response from Christ “oh woman, great is your faith!” And her child was immediately healed. She persisted and awaited with patience the Grace of the Lord.
  • There is a lesson in this for us all. In this world of instant gratification we have lost the ability to await patiently. We are constantly distracted by ever sophisticated technology. Consequently, we strive for the latest electronic gadget. Yet, all these gadgets come with expansive electronic manuals that are not read or terms and conditions which are blindly accepted. Let’s be truthful: how many of us read the electronic terms and conditions which are attached to everything that we seem to do in everyday life? I would suggest a very few. We all want to get on with using our gadgets rather than finding out about them. It’s a bit like our relationship with God: we don’t want to put in but certainly we want the benefit of what God can give us. Perhaps it’s time we slow down and focus on the things that are important.

Around the church

  • The programme for this week is simple. –  Adult education class resumes on Tuesday the 12th February at 6:45 PM. Please bring your Bible with you. The first topic: “We Will Build a World of Our Own – an interactive exercise” (intrigued?… You should be!) (Note that there will be no adult Bible class on the 19th as I will be interstate); Saturday morning divine liturgy in English 9 AM to 10:15 AM.
  • The food store requires the following assistance: oil (both olive vegetable), plain flour, pasta, tinned tomatoes, tinned tuna (preferably large tins) tinned fish, coffee, biscuits, medium grain rice. We are not accepting clothes other than baby and infants clothing to 4 years of age (both male and female – they should be in excellent condition)
  • The gardens and surrounds of the church are looking untidy. I am looking for volunteers to form a committee and who enjoy gardening to take responsibility for the garden beds around the church and the surrounding grounds. At this stage it would be anticipated that there would be a busy bee approximately once a month. Responsibility would need to be taken for the pruning of our many fruit trees and of the grapevines. If you are interested please contact me.

Thought of the week

From Dorotheus of Gaza: “Virtues are in the middle, the Royal way about which the saintly elder[St Basil the great] said, “travel on the Royal way and count the miles”. As I said, the virtues are the midpoint between excess and laxness. That is why it is written, “do not turn to the right or the left” (Proverbs 42: 7) but travel on the “Royal way” (numbers 20:17). St Basil also says, “the person who does not allow his thoughts to incline towards excess or deprivation but directs it to the midpoint, that of virtue, is upright in his heart”. You see, pietism is as dangerous as atheism to the soul aspiring to salvation”.

Till next time.

In Christ.

Father John Athanasiou