“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.”
In this powerful encounter of an unnamed Canaanite woman and Jesus, we learn the power of faith but also a quick glimpse of another creature. This time it is waiting under tables, inside of home and catching the scrapes of food as they fall to the ground. It seems even in ancient times; dogs were patient beggars and companions. Archaeologists have discovered tombs and headstones of beloved pets from this time. In the Greco-Roman world, dogs were even recorded for their role as healers. Scholars have found texts that speak of their benefit to humans by licking wounds and help with healing.
We’ll forgive Jesus for not sounding like a dog lover but he is gracious to this woman in healing her daughter. She recognizes the Lord and his power to truly heal at the beginning of the passage. She asks for just the crumbs that sustain dogs in their homes, it would be enough for her as well. She’s not denied again. Maybe she’d also perfected puppy eyes, that even Jesus couldn’t say no too?
Ever Gracious Lord, as we are reminded of true loyalty and companionship we may find in your creation of dogs, we really need the crumbs of your salvation. In encountering the Messiah, Love in flesh we are invited to a true banquet at the table of your Kingdom. Come Lord Jesus, Amen.