Reading: Mark 7
“Scraps Under the Table” by Laurie Norris
This story reminds me of a time our two-year old son Liam was under the breakfast table with our dog Perry. Liam was eating a piece of chocolate and dropped it. Perry swooped up Liam’s morsel and Liam immediately bit Perry on the ear. Perry, in pain, whipped her mouth toward Liam’s face but evidently understood that Liam was a baby. She did not bite him but let him know that biting her on the ear was not an acceptable thing to do. She was merely doing what dogs do – eating scraps the children drop.
Upon reading the words Jesus says to the Syro-Phoenician woman, we are shocked at the harsh, derogatory sound of Jesus calling the woman a dog. That doesn’t sound like the loving, compassionate Jesus we know. The word that Jesus uses, though, means “little pet dog”, one who is part of the family. In our household, dogs are so much a part of the family that we have the ashes of one in a box on the mantle. Our current dog gets to lie at our feet on our bed while we watch TV.
The Syro-Phoenician woman is not insulted by Jesus’ words. Jesus’ ministry was first to the Jews. They were his people, his priority. She needs help for her daughter and she knows that Jesus can heal the girl. She cleverly responds, “But don’t the dogs under the table get scraps dropped by the children?” Jesus respects the woman’s faith and heals her daughter. She has persisted in asking for Jesus’ help even after he seemingly refuses her request. This is a great illustration that even when God seems unwilling to aid us, we must continue to seek God’s help.