Read: Matthew 15:21-28

. . . even the dogs eat the crumbs. (v. 27)

Downtown Kansas City, just outside the corner Starbucks, a man stands and tells his story. Some folks listen. Others retort dismissively. Unashamed, this new parolee pleads for help. He’s not too proud to admit it. With blunt humility, he asks if I have a “twenty” to spare. I brush him off, heading for my car; it’s less messy to turn a blind eye. Still, I couldn’t drive away. I scrounge through my crumb-collecting purse for a “twenty” and scurry back to see him. I listen, looking this man in the eye. I pray for him, and I stuff the “twenty” into the palm of his hand. “Thank you, ma’am.”

When Jesus sees humility, he honors. Coming from a skirmish about empty tradition, Jesus encounters an unashamed cry. Jesus denies the woman’s desperate request with his enigmatic response, though there’s a loophole. The meal is for the children (= Israel). Yet the dogs (= Gentiles) still get their fair share, and the kneeling woman grabs ahold of it. With stunning humility, the woman deftly receives the “crumbs” of mercy. In remarkable contrast to the entitled religiosity of the “children at the table,” the Canaanite woman displays astonishing humility. Foremost, Jesus affirms her unpretentious faith, and thus grants her daughter’s immediate healing purely as a gift of grace. Jesus honors such humility and faith.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). How low are we willing to go? Surely for the gifts on the table, but for the crumbs at Jesus’ feet? —Michelle Christy

Prayer: Lord, we bow to receive your mercy and grace.