“And he said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered him, ‘Yes Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’” - Mark 7:28b
If someone called you a dog, how would you respond? I know I’d be extremely offended. I’d probably find it hard to speak.
Pride can be funny that way. It’s so easily wounded, even by the smallest of words.
Yet this woman, whom Mark quickly points out is a gentile, a non-Jew, an outsider to their faith and community, doesn’t rise to the bait.
Jesus’ statement seems callous, rude, and very un-Jesus like. How could he treat a woman who came to him for help this way?
Many scholars agree that this was no demeaning remark, but a test. If Jesus truly saw this woman as no more than a dog, he could have simply ignored her - and he certainly wouldn’t have healed her child. Instead, he chooses to interact with her, to see what faith she has.
She doesn’t get angry or upset, and she doesn’t run away. This woman humbles herself, acknowledges her place outside of the Jewish people, yet shows her belief in him.
Now, when we find ourselves in offensive situations nowadays, it’s not necessarily a test of faith, but it is a test of our perseverance. As Christians, we are called to walk humbly, and follow the example of this woman, and of Jesus’ himself.
Paul writes in Philippians 2:1-10 all about humility, but I’ll only include a small excerpt here: “In humility count others more significant than yourselves…have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who…humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:3-4, 8).
Humility is hard, but if Christ humbled himself to the cross, I can swallow my pride when someone makes a snide remark about me.
Heavenly Father, I ask that you grant me the strength to live humbly. Help me set aside my pride in order to show your peace and your love to those around me, this and every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.