READINGOld Testament: Genesis 49:1-28
Psalms: Psalms 89:1-18, 89:19-52
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1
Gospel: Mark 7:24-37
Evening Psalms: 89:19-52
DEVOTIONALI offered to clear the dishes from the snack that Gran (my mom’s mom) and I had just finished, but Gran insisted on doing it herself. “The thrill of virtue, the feeling of having done the right thing that accompanies the performance of some mundane task -- folding a sheet, washing a dish,” said Gran, “seems so out of proportion to the effort involved as to be almost criminal.”
I know exactly what she meant. I have experienced similar feelings, like when I receive an overly generous reward or effusive thanks for simply doing a small favor for someone. Becoming flush with an unreasonable well-being, I’ve said, “You’re welcome,” and thought “This can’t be right.” Maybe I somehow inherited Gran’s well-earned humble expectations of life (she raised three kids as a single mom, during the depression, on a schoolteacher’s salary). I have thought that a little sense of unworthiness is actually a healthy response to the climate of entitlement that seems to surround us. I’ve come to believe, however, that my feelings of getting more than I deserve are God’s reminders that He is not bound by my, or anyone else’s, sense of propriety or proportion.
I believe Jesus is making the same point in the story of the Syrophenecian woman from Mark’s Gospel. As I see it, Jesus was not constrained then by what probably started out as a good rule about caring first for those close to us (which got twisted into a bad one about not caring for anyone else). As a result, He was free to heal the woman’s child and confirm her faith. I also believe that He is not constrained now by my expectations or feelings of what I deserve. He’s free to lavish His compassion and blessings on me, pointing out the small victories that I often take for granted and that help make up any good day. May I always be unconstrained in my compassion and concern for others.
“Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen”
(BCP, A Collect for Grace, pg. 100)