Kamal Hourani is a first year student in the Religious Studies Program at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is also a participant of our Digital Disciples Program.
In his recent article on the Ladder, the blog of the Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, Christian Gonzalez puts the Gospel lesson of the Canaanite Woman in a new light.
A lesson of humility
He recounts the story of how he pushed for a promotion in a social services agency he used to work for and got it despite being new to the agency and despite being unlicensed. “Maybe there are some things we need to press against,” Gonzalez writes, though he admits: “I was asking from a position of utter undeserving.” He pushed his authority figures to be gracious in their consideration, and it worked.
This is exactly the frame in which the events of the Gospel lesson of the Canaanite Woman unfold. The woman accepts her low social status as a gentile before a Jewish Rabbi and the Messiah, but begs Christ to give her the crumbs from the Master’s table.
Christ did not have to grant her wish for the healing of her daughter, and he even says that it is not part of his mission to minister to the Gentiles. But the woman, in her lowliness, demonstrated great humility, fertile enough to allow God’s seed of mercy to take root.
God’s mercy is free
Christian declares that we are “too busy trying to earn promotions in the Kingdom of God.” We can never acquire God’s grace by the power of our own works; it is a free gift from a merciful master who can only sow his seeds in the hearts of the humble. Christian received his promotion without having earned, and so we too receive God’s compassion in a position of utter undeserving.
As we approach the blessed season of the Great Fast, we must remember that our works of ascesis do not merit us anything before the Lord. They are merely ways of pushing and begging God to be gracious unto us, and we soon learn that God is more than joyful to respond to us and to visit us in our great need.
You can read Christian’s full article here.
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