The Filipino term “ningas kugon” tells about people’s tendency of inconsistency. Ningas kugon simply refers to someone’s good performance that was not sustained due to lack of good motivation (just like a cogon grass that would burn easily and yet diminish instantly).
One of the lessons I had with my fourth year students in Christian Social Responsibility was about “ningas kugon”. We found out that one of the reasons is lack of good motivation. In school, some students engage themselves in activities because of rewards and punishments. Some do outreach programs because they just feel doing it. However, if this feeling was not sustained, it would easily last. Some work for charity just because they look at it merely as an obligation. If they were not praised or affirmed, they will feel bad and no longer continue doing it. Clearly, not all that starts well ends well.
In Matthew 15:21-28, we read how the Canaanite woman persisted in persuading Jesus to heed her plea. What was her motivation in asking Jesus? Was it because she looked for reward? Definitely, she was begging for help not for personal gain but for the cure of her daughter. Was it because she just had the feeling of doing it? She still persisted even the disciples hurt her feelings when she called out for help from their Master. Obviously, she was not even moved by obligation!
Jesus himself revealed the inspiration of the woman’s persistence when he declared, “O woman, great is your faith!” We learn from her that when asking for something, we should do it in faith. In faith, we are asked by God to engage not just in prayer but in service too. Anything we do for God should be done in faith. We discover that ningas kugon also happens in our faith-response. The Canaanite woman set an example for those who follow Christ along the way during his time—yes, including us who struggle to do the same thing in our time.
Passage to Ponder:
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.