Reading: Matthew 15: 10-28
Verse 27: Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.
A woman whose daughter is demon-possessed comes to Jesus seeking healing for her daughter. She must have heard of the miracles that Jesus was performing and she comes seeking a miracle for her daughter. But she does not fit into the mold. She does not check off the boxes of belonging. She is not of the chosen people. She is a Gentile. The man we know as love rejects her. In our mind’s eye we see a Jesus who always leads with love and who welcomes everyone, even sinners. Suddenly our vision is a bit blurry.
After ignoring her for a while, she becomes annoying and the disciples ask Jesus to send her away. His response: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel”. But she does not give up. She comes and kneels before Jesus, saying, “Lord, help me”! It is a desperate mother’s cry for healing. Surely Jesus will show her love and cast out the demon from her daughter. Nope. He tells her He will not take the children’s bread and give it to the “dogs”. Not only ‘no’ but an insult to boot!
In the first half of the passage, we recall Jesus trying to correct the Pharisees for a law that was a barrier keeping people from God. And now Jesus himself uses a ‘rule’ to keep a woman at a distance, certainly outside of God’s love. It is a game we are good at too. If you are not dressed right or if you don’t have membership or if you are of another culture or if… We also easily erect barriers that keep people out or at least at bay. In a similar way, we allow differences to become reasons for why we do not go out and engage the lost. But she does not give up. She is persistent.
“Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table”. She says, ok, you can try and reject me and you can insult me, but I still want your help. It’s hard to say what affected Jesus more – her deep love for her daughter or the faith she had that He could heal her. He heals her daughter. And she leaves Jesus changed. The human Jesus now loves more. He sees a wider circle. God’s love is for all people. Today, may we too look beyond the barriers in our own hearts and may we begin to love a wider circle.