Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Crumbs of Grace

Sunday's Gospel text was the story of the Phoenician woman who pleaded with Jesus for his healing. He refused with a somewhat snide remark.

It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.
But she was quick with a comeback:
Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.
Which led me to think the title of today's post. All any of us get in our day to day lives is truly nothing more than a few crumbs of grace falling, I believe, from the bounty of God. Crumbs of grace.

Yet it is enough. It is always enough. Grace is never deficient.

I have never thought,
Gee, if only I had a little more grace today. Things would go so much better.
Nor have I thought, (out loud, anyway!)
I deserve more grace. Look at all I have done. Look at how wonderful I can be. Surely there's more grace set aside for me.
I know that when I write that it sounds downright silly, if not idiotic. We all know (intellectually) that grace is unearnable. It's free, a gift, far beyond anything we deserve -or would get if justice were based on our human standards. Yet I have heard many people over the years make statements, in coded language of course, but the message is clear:
Look at me, I deserve more grace.
Sunday evening then I was doing some research for a presentation this fall that includes a look at "feminist ethics." As I was reading the description and insights of feminist ethics, it struck me that in the scene from the Gospel on Sunday, we were seeing an example of the "ethics of care" that the woman was presenting.

The "old ethics" was that this woman was below any attention. She doesn't even deserve grace. (I know, that's an oxymoronic statement!) But her ethic is far stronger. Her ethic is based on relationships and healing, not strength and force. Her ethic is based on caring for her daughter. So, in essence she says to Jesus and the disciples:
I don't care what your ethic is, mine is to take care of my daughter. It is as good as your ethic. Maybe better? Even the dogs get to eat the scraps, and Jesus, you are a man of grace and have a lot to share.
I then came across a quote in my reading that, for me, summed up the difference between her ethic and the ethic of force and wielding power:
grace is a healing power rather than a saving force.
What a statement. Healing vs. saving. Force, or a gift. Perhaps if we were more attuned to the Canaanite woman's ethic, we would be more open to caring for those around us in a more helpful way.

No comments: