Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dogs Under the Table

Jesus left Gennesaret and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15: 21-28

Our dog Petey has to be reminded on a regular basis not to crawl under the table while we are sitting at a meal. We make her move to the other room and she often looks forlorn and pitiful. She has a habit of trying to sneak back in, when we aren't looking, and since she is about the same color as the floor, the sneaking is easier than you might think. She's persistent, even though she is well fed and doesn't need to rely on accidental scraps. She will always beg and scavenge, it is how she is hardwired.

Jesus at first refuses to help a Canaanite woman who has come to him for the sake of her daughter. He is deaf to her cried, and then when he finally listens, he refuses her on the grounds that she is not from his people, his tribe. The passion for her daughter, the persistence of a mother, whose love makes her as ferocious as a bear. This is how she is hardwired. She pushes back, and Jesus sees her faith and draws the circle wider. And we have her to thank for a persistence that pushed even the son of God to change and grow more inclusive by the moment.

As this long day ends, I give thanks for all those who are willing to be who they are, pushing the boundaries and including the outsiders and the overlooked. I thank God for those who are hardwired for love and who teach all of us how to grow in faith and love.

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