I love the face of the dog in the picture above. If any of you have dogs as pets, you have seen that face. You know the one, the face that pleads and begs with you to share with them when you are cooking or when you are eating a meal. How many of you give in and give them just a little something?
One of my favorite memories is a Thanksgiving meal at a friend’s home a few years ago. Their daughter was a little over a year old and she loved to eat meat. Most of all, she loved to share that meat with their two dogs who would sit under her highchair as she ate. They knew what was coming! She would take a piece of meat for herself and then she would gleefully toss a piece or two onto the floor for the dogs. She grinned with delight and so did the dogs!
In this week’s Gospel lesson Jesus says these words – “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” It’s an intriguing response to a woman who is pleading with him to heal her daughter. Her response is “That’s true, Lord but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their master’s table.”
To explain more about this exchange, we need to dig deeper for some background that will help us understand this conversation. When Jesus began His ministry here on earth, his first focus was to teach and preach to the Jewish people, the Israelites, God’s chosen ones. It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t love other people, it was just his first focus to bring the Jewish people to repentance and back to God. He was here to remind them of God’s great love for them and the promises God had made and kept. Jesus was God’s promised One, the Savior, and Jesus wanted these chosen ones to turn back to God and realize the promise was being fulfilled in him.
In preaching, teaching, and performing miracles many others from all around were seeking out Jesus so they could hear him and have him heal their sick and lame. In our Gospel lesson today we are told a Gentile woman, a Canaanite woman, has come to Jesus begging and pleading for His help. The story tells us at first Jesus totally ignores her. The disciples urge him to send her away. They are tired of hearing her beg and don’t want to be bothered anymore.
The woman doesn’t give up so Jesus tells her He was sent only to help God’s lost sheep – the Israelites. She still doesn’t stop. She now comes and worships him, pleading again for Jesus’ help and healing. That is when this interesting exchange takes place about dogs and scraps from the table.
Jesus is testing her humility and her faith in this exchange and she clearly understands that just a small portion of His love is more than enough for her life. Jesus tells her that her faith is great, and her request is granted. Immediately, her daughter is healed.
Here’s something else we need to understand about this encounter – this woman basically enters into this with 3 strikes against her. She is a woman (not valued in the society of the day), she is a Gentile (not one of God’s chosen ones) and she is a Canaanite (considered the lowest of the Gentiles). This encounter shows us not only her faith in Jesus, but it also shows us His love for ALL people, no matter their background or circumstances. He had come to save His people Israel, but He had also come to be the Savior of the WHOLE world, for ALL people.
This story made me reflect on its meaning for my life. God’s love for me is more than enough, but do I show him that great faith and love Him most in my life? Do I love Him with my whole heart, my whole life, or do I just give him the scraps leftover after I deal with my daily life? In this trying time of deciding so many things in our lives – especially for our children and their health and well being – am I truly trusting in the ONE who is in control of all things?
His command is to love God and love others. Am I following His example in service to others? Am I giving more than enough to care for those in need or are they getting the scraps after I fulfill things in my life? Am I giving all of myself through time, money, talents, etc.? Am I truly loving my neighbor no matter who they are, what their life circumstances may be (rich or poor), where they come from, or what color their skin is?
These are not easy questions to answer. I often find myself falling short, of giving only scraps of my life to God and to others. It is in those times that I am so grateful for God’s grace and love that are more than enough to grant me forgiveness and a new path forward. May we always look to deepen and strengthen our faith in the One who has chosen us to be His own and may we always look to find ways to share the love of Christ with anyone in need.
We continue to pray for you daily and are always available to talk and support you in any way we are able. We are here to encourage, equip, and guide you as you are the “Light of Christ” for your children, family, friends, and neighbors. We provide some ideas/tips/resources to help you lead by faith with your family through the weekly email, on the private Children’s Ministry Facebook page and on Trinity’s Facebook page and website. Please feel free to contact me any time if I can serve you or your family in any way.