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
We had a wonderful border collie that my parents adopted while I was in high school. She lived a long time. We had two children by the time Penny passed. All during her life she was herding us everywhere we went. Out for a walk she would push and nudge me to the edge of the road. She would round up the children and not let them stray. We had to stay in tight formation is she was to be made happy. Her love and energy was boundless. These lost and wandering sheep needed her much more than she needed us.
A foreign woman pesters Jesus for the sake of her child. At first, he refuses her claiming his mission was simply to the lost sheep of Israel. But her faith and dogged persistence changed his mind. Her tenacity saved not only her child's life but changed the mission. The interconnectedness of us all became real and substantial in Jesus' ministry. No one gets left out for any reason. And we often need the herding dogs as much as the shepherd. We are interdependent, interwoven and all a part of God's reign here on earth.
Today I ask God to help me be ever more open and inclusive. In changes and transitions we can close down in self-protection but may we open our hearts to those around us and welcome all. May this be a day when those we encounter know that we have been touched and changed by love.
Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.