Humility and Faith

Mark 7: 24-30
Gen 2: 18-25 / Ps 128

Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.
(Mark 7:28)

I once was blind, and couldn’t see
Pride in my ways had shackled me;
You helped me find true liberty
With Your grace of Humility.

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet He could not keep His presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about Him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at His feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. “Let the children be fed first,” He told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” But she replied, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then He told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. (Mark 7:24-30)


Up to this point in His ministry, Jesus did not yet have the inclination to preach and perform miracles for the benefit of the Gentiles. His mission was to bring the Good News of the Father first to His children, the Chosen People of Israel. Not because He shared the general sentiment of Jews at that time against pagans, who were considered “outcasts”, but because He was following a set schedule—everything at their proper time – “the children must be fed first.” The pagan world could always be served later. But His Sacred Heart was easily taken by the humility and faith of the Syrophoenician woman. Instead of feeling offended that her tribe was referred to as “dogs”, she humbly accepted the hurting word, and even begged for the crumbs that only dogs would eat falling from their master’s table. The “crumbs’ that this pagan woman was figuratively referring to was the little time and effort that it would take Jesus to heal her daughter. She believed all that the Lord had to do was simply will it, and the demon would be cast out of her daughter. And she was right– her great faith was instantly rewarded.

It has been said that faith is not formed by miracles, but rather, miracles happen because of faith. It is also said that faith grows strongest in the soil of humility, just as it surely withers in the hard heart of the proud. Pride can keep us from seeking the solution to our problems, just as it can prevent us from believing in God’s compassion and forgiveness. Many years ago, we read about the tragic end of an influential and wealthy cabinet secretary, who was too proud to own up to the charges of corruption against him that he lost his faith, choosing what he thought was the “honorable” way out of his problems by committing suicide. If only he had been humble enough to confess and reveal all the anomalies of the former regime, the country would have been the better for it, and knowing the sympathetic nature of our people for those who humbly admit their sins, he could have been exonerated.

Humility is admitting to ourselves that we are sinners, and can never do anything to save ourselves without Christ. St. Paul said, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith that God has apportioned” (Rom 12:3). In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt.5:3). And our Lord showed us how: “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Phil 2:8) This world is in shambles because of the pride of men; how wonderful a place it would be if more people would put a premium on the grace of humility.

Help us, dear God to be able to change and become like little children, as our Lord Jesus taught us, “Whoever humbles himself like a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt.18:4). May this be one of our foremost aspirations. Amen.

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