The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” —Matthew 15:25-27
Ever read a stage script? Actors live for these, especially as a buzz about an upcoming audition begins. In the written lines, we theater folk can long for those rare cues from the playwright found in brackets or in parenthesis. This vital info helps us understand the character and the scene from the point of view of the author.
This being said, I wonder what’s going on with Jesus in this scene. The character and the motivation of the Canaanite woman here are understandable and inspirational, but Jesus’ line? Um. This can sound caustic, abrupt, even rude.
But these characteristics don’t define the character of Jesus. So, what gives?
While different commentators will understandably report this differently, I think Jesus gets the whole thing. I suggest he is not testing her or pushing her away. I hear him doing the opposite. Kindhearted, loving, and encouraging, I see him drawing out of this faithful one what she can say when given the chance, the opportunity, the moment. Jesus’ line could have given to him. By this, the inclusive Jesus could have said, “Even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” Instead, he let her help us find our seats at the divine table.
These are my thoughts as we move into Sunday and the power of women. I’m not necessary right or wrong. This prep just shows not only who Jesus is, but also who this woman is.
And this? Ooooh, yes. This is good.
PRAYER: Lord, help us find the stages and platforms where we can all call out—and live out—your justice, mercy, grace and truth. Amen.