Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jesus Called Her a Dog?

Ever think of Jesus calling people "dogs"?

Check out The Gospel of Mark 7:24-30.

What's worse, it's not a stuffy, egotistical hypocrite with whom he is speaking. It's the mother of a sick child who comes to see him and ask for her daughter's healing!

If it makes you feel any better, one commentator writes that in the culture of the New Testament, this particular word for "dog" means "little house pets" that would have had a relationship with the family in the home and garnered affection. This same commentator goes on to argue, as do many others, that Jesus' point is that he has come to the lost sheep of Israel, the Jewish people. This woman, a Gentile, is not part of the group to whom he has come to speak.

Jesus says, "First let the children eat all they want...for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." Essentially, I have come to speak to my people. And maybe even more specifically, on this journey, he was focusing upon his twelve disciples with whom he was hoping to get away for a little time of instruction and prayer.

But it is at that moment that this woman gives one of the great, all-time responses.

"Yes, Lord...but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."

The commentator referenced above writes, "Her reply demonstrates humility and faith."

I don't often picture Jesus stunned. But if he ever was, if ever he was caught off guard, this could have been the time. I imagine him nearly laughing with thanksgiving to the Father becuase this woman gets it. He is clearly moved by her response. For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.

Humility and faith.

As we focus our attention this week on prayer, I wonder if those two adjectives would describe your prayer life?



Humility suggests we are not owed anything, by anyone. Not God. Not others. We're just seekers, askers, beggers. We come as children, as little dogs in the house, waiting for the good graces and generosity of our owner. If we don't get it, we go. And when we see him later, we'll come back and try again. That's humility.

Faith suggests we have a deep sense of faith in the One to whom we are speaking. We believe that God is moved by such a reply. That God is able to do exceedingly, and abundantly, more than we could ever ask for or imagine.

I want to invite you to cultivate the attitude of this woman TODAY.

Seek humility. There will be chances in nearly every day of your life to develop it. Chances to serve. Chances to put others before yourself. Chances to love rather than react. Chances to forgive rather than hold grudges. Chances to give someone else the benefit of the doubt rather than taking the opportunity to explain how they've messed us over again.

That's how we develop humility. Jesus LOVES it.

And seek faith. Scripture tells us it is a gift from God. Ask for it. And look for chances to exercise it.

Then let's be ready this week to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church about prayer.

Grace & peace

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