Deeply Rooted in God's Grace

April 22, 2020

“...a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about Jesus and she came and bowed down at his feet.  Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin.  She begged him to cast out the demon out of his daughter.  He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go – the demon has left your daughter.’” Mark 7:24-29

It is startling to read Jesus’ unkind words to the woman – more than just unkind for he called her and her daughter dogs.  Jesus, human as he was, was susceptible to prejudice as he reacted to this Gentile woman who was not a Jew.  The children he is referring to are the people of Israel to whom he had been called to serve, to heal, to reform, to save, to be the Messiah, Son of God.  So initially he did not see this woman and her daughter worthy of healing.  Harsh.  But the woman was not giving up.  She persisted.  Using his reference to them as dogs, she did not argue with the derogatory term but claimed that she and her daughter deserved even a little bit of grace.  She had faith that even a few crumbs could heal her daughter.  Jesus recognized in her a deepness of faith that went beyond her identity as a Gentile.  Jesus recognized this in others too, such as with the Roman centurion.

What we learn through this story is that no one is beyond the bounds of God’s grace and that we are called to look beyond our prejudices to see the person underneath.  Sometimes it is even those who do not claim to be Christian who exemplify in their lives a love that is deeply rooted in God’s grace.  They live the gospel in their actions in a way that many Christians don’t.  Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16-17) We cannot fully understand the workings of God’s grace – it is much larger than we can even imagine – so we have no right to put limits on it.  Every person is a child of God.  Let us live as if it is so. 

Prayer: Loving God, there are no boundaries to whom your grace is given and resides.  We simply pray that all would know you and have the faith of the Gentile woman, including us.  Amen.

Provided by Rev. Susan Roddey, Director of Spiritual Life at Abernethy Laurels