Worship Folder August 20, 2017
Categories: Worship Folders
“We are beggars; this is true,” are reported to be Martin Luther’s last written words. Christians are “beggars” for God’s grace, undeserving but graced nonetheless. A beggar’s faith focuses not on what is given or accomplished or believed, but on what is received: the healing and sustenance desperately longed for and needed.
In today’s gospel, the Canaanite woman is such a “beggar” for Jesus’ healing for her daughter. She is denied a place at the table at first, but she will accept even “crumbs” in the faith that Jesus’ healing power and love are intended even for her. As a Gentile outsider, she inhabits the margins of Jesus’ mission to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Jesus’ eventual response to her beggar’s faith reveals that the love of God even encompasses the margins.
Marginalized or not, we are all beggars before God, as Paul reminds the Romans—all “imprisoned in disobedience” and dependent on God. Thus, our sense of “insider” and “outsider” crumbles in the face of our common need and God’s abundant mercy to all. Instead of dividing people between those who have a place at the table and those who get crumbs, we have an opportunity to share hospitality with our fellow beggars.
It can be challenging to see ourselves as beggars. Today the Canaanite woman becomes our model, as she persists with both humility and audacity. As disciples of Jesus and “beggars” for God’s grace, we live the same paradox of humility and audacity, boldly coming to Jesus and humbly acknowledging our need. Even though crumbs from God’s table would be enough for us, we are offered instead the abundance of Jesus’ own self in bread and wine and invited to share this abundance with insider and outsider alike.