Monday – August 18, 2014; Matthew 15:21-28
21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 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.” 23 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.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus seems to be pretty rough on the Canaanite woman…comparing her plea for mercy to the begging of a dog! I have often found this passage troubling, and very much unlike Jesus…
But then if we really think about it…we treat our dogs very well…they are usually treated like well-loved members of the family. I actually share some things with my dogs that I never tell anyone else, and there are times when the unconditional love the dogs give me brings me great pleasure; in addition, my two girls often eat their breakfast before I have mine.
I also like to play with my two dogs, pet them, hug them, bathe them (which they hate), brush them and try to keep the fleas at bay, and my daughter spoils them even more than I do…so maybe being compared to a dog is not so bad…yet though they are loved, they are still just pets.
That said, if we really look at this Gospel we realize that Jesus is not really comparing the woman to a dog begging for crumbs at the table…instead, he is making the point that all of us deserve God’s blessings and grace, no matter where we were born, who we were born to, or how we live our lives!
When Jesus told the crowd that it was not fair to give the children’s food and give it to the dogs…and then proceeded to heal the woman’s daughter, he was proclaiming that in God’s eyes we are more than just beloved pets (like our dogs or cats) but well-loved children, and as such we ALL are members of God’s family and that the message of God’s love is now given for all people!
As single parents there are times when we may not mind being treated like pampered pets who are given everything they need, whether they want it or not (like baths or medicine), as it may be less stressful than being a part of the family (or it’s head) who is responsible for making decisions and then seeing them through; however we are the ones who are responsible, and we took on this role knowing that it was the best thing for ourselves and our children.
We also took on this challenge in faith…faith that we were up to the task, and that when we faltered that we and our children would survive, as we had faith that God is always with us…even when it sometimes feels as if God was not paying attention, as in fact God is always watching over us and has given us people who could help us, support us and guide us down this unknown and occasionally treacherous road of single parenting!
Living in the light of the risen Christ, we have all been made part of God’s family, and shown the same love, compassion and concern that we show to our own children; and just as with our own children, God watches over us, struggles with us and lifts us up to face these challenges…and we do not need to shout to be heard by God…but maybe it is by shouting that others can hear our pleas and offer to help, while also being supported by knowing that we are all in this together, single and partnered parents, those whose children are grown, and even those without children…as we are all have something to offer each other: a faith that is shared, and faith shared can only grow stronger.
Let us Pray:
God, thank you that as part of your family we do not need to shout for you to hear us…all we need to do is pray…and to reach out to others who can help us. Please let us have faith in your loving grace and that even when it seems like you are not paying attention that you are always with us through those we share our faith with. Help us to share what we have learned with others, and to remember that we are not traveling this road of single parenting alone, but together…and that we have the hope of Christ to light our way.