George H. Morrison
The greatness of faith often can be measured by the obstacles it overcomes. Our Lord evidently had that in mind when He spoke of the faith of a grain of mustard seed. The mustard seed, when it is grown, is nothing extraordinarily beautiful or useful. One does not love it as one loves the lilies, nor is it fashioned into food for man. The wonderful thing about the mustard seed is its gallant adventure in the world of life, starting from the unlikeliest beginnings. Faith can often be measured by achievement; but achievement is not the only measurement. It may accomplish little and yet be really great in its overcoming of opposing circumstances. And in the faith of this Syrophoenician woman that feature is so signal and so splendid that we might measure her faith by that alone. Let us, then, lay aside all else and think only of the things that were against her when she came to Jesus that memorable day.
In the first place, her birth was against her. St. Matthew tells us that she was a woman of Canaan, and she is called by St. Mark a Syrophoenician woman from which we learn that she belonged by birth to one of the native races of the land. Now when, long centuries before, the Jews had entered Canaan, they had been bidden to exterminate these races. It had been war to the death between the Hebrews and the tribes who were in possession of the land. And we know what hatred and what bitterness will rankle in the heart of some poor remnant whose memories are of exterminating wars. Into that heritage was this woman born. She was bred in abhorrence of the name of Jew. To her the Jew was like the Norman conqueror1 to the disinherited and defeated Saxon2. Yet all the bitterness in which she had been trained and the prejudice in which she had been steeped was overcome in her profound belief that Jesus could save her little daughter. How her neighbors would deride her if she hinted to them the nature of her errand! They would ch ...
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