From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Today, I was very tempted to reproduce an earlier reflection on this passage in its entirety, because I thought it was really illuminating, but I have not repeated a reflection in over two years; I don’t plan on starting now. Besides, I have something new to say. However, I would like you to watch that because it offers an explanation about Jesus’ seemingly racist and harsh behavior towards a gentile woman (https://youtu.be/9yDW4mdnk94).
One of the points I had made in that reflection was that we often take for granted what we have, and instead of being grateful, actually show tremendous ingratitude. We have an outreach ministry that helps the poor in several countries. We recently started such an outreach in Mumbai, where volunteers go out distributing food to the poor every weekend.
Every now and then I speak to the volunteers, who often have tears in their eyes as they describe their experiences. The one common denominator in all the stories was the tremendous gratitude people expressed for receiving the simplest of meals. If they hadn’t received it they would have gone to sleep hungry. It is a terrible thing to go to sleep on an empty stomach. It is even worse to watch somebody you love go to sleep without eating, especially if these are little children.
One of the persons overseeing this entire ministry spoke last week about how the children who received the food clung to his legs as though he was god, even though he gave them so little. He remarked how different we were to them. Even though God has blessed us with so much there is hardly any gratitude, much less clinging to his legs. The woman in today’s story was happy to settle for crumbs that fall to the ground from the table. So many would settle for it too.
And let us be grateful to God that we have more than crumbs.