My dog stares at my while I eat. She has no manners, no pride, and no sense of shame. She unabashedly stares and begs, watching my every move, hoping I might, by some act of particular mercy or grace, offer her a small tidbit for her eternally empty stomach. It’s very annoying.
Why does she do it? Because she is a dog and that’s what dogs do. She knows that any food worth anything comes from the master’s table, so she waits and stares. Why does it annoy me? I guess because it makes me feel a little obligated to share. What I fail to realize is that she is just a dog. She does not think I am obligated to share. She just hopes I will. And so this morning she sat and waited patiently for the crust of my toast, with or without jelly.
The whole episode reminds me of the story in the Bible where the Canaanite woman comes to Jesus for help. I’ve always thought it sounded like He basically calls her a dog and says it’s not His place to help her. Consider this scripture:
22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”
23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”
24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
She is persistent, just asking for a crumb, and He rewards her, but I never liked that story. It doesn’t seem proper for Jesus to try to turn someone away just because they are not the right sort of person; to liken them to a dog, and say in effect “It’s not my job to deal with you.” Besides, since I am not a Jew, I suppose that puts me right in the dog house with that lady. That’s what I used to think. Today I am thinking a little differently.
Jesus says it is not good to give the children’s food to the “little dogs.” The puppies. But maybe it’s not a bad thing to feed puppies, it’s just bad that the children of Israel won’t eat the banquet the Father has served and it’s not a good thing to have to give the arrogant, spoiled children’s food to the puppies. It’s no reflection on the puppies, only on the children.
The children are the Jews of His day who would not accept Him and the banquet He had provided. The puppies are those like my dog. The humble ones who wait patiently, expecting food from the Master’s table. The ones who are not too proud to beg for the Master’s mercy. The ones that know that anything worth having must come from His hand. The ones who depend on Him for their very life. These are the puppies in this story. And we are blessed indeed if we, like the faithful woman from Canaan, can count ourselves as one of them.