Christlike: don’t give them leftovers

A reflection on Sunday’s Gospel

At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”  But he did not say a word in answer to her.  His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”  He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”  He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”  Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”  And her daughter was healed from that hour.  – Matthew 15:21-28

What are You trying to teach me, Jesus?

This story teaches me to persevere in prayer and humility.  To stand up in the face of trials.  To press on, even when I feel discouraged.

Jesus, You always answer my prayers.  But sometimes You test my faith first.

A familiar lesson.

What are You trying to teach me, Jesus?

The stories in the Bible aren’t merely lessons.  They’re not all parables.  They’re not staged.  They’re also historical accounts of real people living real lives.

This isn’t just a story You want me to learn from, it’s Your life.

You lived this moment.

You weren’t using this woman to teach a lesson.  You weren’t setting her up as a prop in a story.  You weren’t making an example of her.

You were the example.

Jesus, this isn’t just a story You want me to learn from.  It’s Your life.  Tweet this.

Because that’s who You are.  You are the Savior, God.  You are perfection.  You are truth.  You walked this earth to give us life, and to show us how to live life.

What are You trying to teach me, Jesus?

Not just to be a prayerful supplicant.   Not just to follow You.  But to step into Your place and learn from who You are.  To become more like You.  To be Your Presence to the world.

You’re teaching me to be Christlike.

What not to do

The first thing You did that gave me pause, Jesus, was…


The woman called out to You, and You ignored her.  You said not a word.

I realized You were giving Your apostles a chance to respond to this woman’s cry for help.  You gave them a chance to reach out to her.  To respond to her in compassion.  To be Christlike.

They heard her repeated calls.  They knew her need.  But they didn’t step up to the plate.

Instead, the Apostles showed me what not to do.

They didn’t try to help this woman.  They didn’t even lead her to You.  They just got annoyed with her and wanted to send her away.

Imagine that! They saw someone in need, but they didn’t try to help her, or even intercede for her.  They tried to get rid of her.  How selfish.

But for a moment, let me turn my eyes back to You.  Let me look at what Your face reveals to me.

You’re staring at me in the silence.  You left the door wide open for me, Your apostle, Your disciple, Your follower, to minister to a lost soul.  To reach out to those in need.  To be Christlike.

And often, I reject that opportunity.  Instead of trying to act like You, become like You, reach out in Your place, I turn to You in aggravated prayer. “Lord, take my suffering away.  Give me peace and quiet.  Just let me rest!”

You gave them a chance.  You gave me a chance.  And sometimes we make mistakes, the apostles and I.

Sometimes we make mistakes, the apostles and I.  Tweet this.

Enter Sarcastic Jesus

I’m putting myself back into this story, to live it by Your side, my Jesus.  I see the woman kneel at Your feet.  I hear her cry one last time, “Lord, help me!”

I hear Your response, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  That’s right, I think, put her in her place.

But, considering how uncharitably and unmercifully the apostles and I just treated this woman, I think again.

This wasn’t another attempt to withhold Your mercy.  Was that a hint of sarcasm I detected in Your voice?

This line is meant for me.

I hear it now as a rebuke.  “Just look at how proud you were to reject this woman and her needs.  You treated her like a lowlife.  Like a dog.”

As my face turns red and my stomach rises to my throat, I can’t miss Your next words.  “O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”

You praised this woman’s faith!

You applaud her for crying out, drawing near, overcoming the rejection of those closest to You – who should have been more welcoming to her.  You commend her for throwing herself at Your feet and begging You to help her, despite the rejection of those who should have represented Your love and mercy to her.

This woman loves and trust You above all else.  You will give her what she desires.  She’s not a nuisance to You.  She’s not a burden, certainly not a dog.

And You’d never send her away.

She’s Your beloved child.  She doesn’t get the leftovers.  She gets the best of You: a miraculous healing for her daughter, and no doubt a shower of graces as well.

She’s Your beloved child.  She doesn’t get the leftovers.  She gets the best of You.  Tweet this.

Called to be Christlike

This is what You call me to do.  I shouldn’t be selfish, like the Apostles were.  I should be loving and merciful like You.

To be Christlike, I can’t simply be Your follower.  I have to become more and more like You.

Who, in my life, is a supplicant?  Who do I hear daily, crying out for my mercy and attention like the woman in this Gospel?  Who have You sent to me, for me to reach out to and minister to in Your place?

My children, of course.

They cry out to me with a thousand needs a day.  If I follow the crowd, the selfish flawed humans like the disciples in the story, I’m tempted to cry out to You, “Send them away!  Give me five minutes peace.  Just let me think.”

But If I want to be Christlike, I need to reject the idea that my children are inconveniences.  That my children are like dogs.  That I deserve my best and they get the leftover scraps.

Just like You gave the Canaanite woman Your best – You met her needs, You affirmed her faith – I should give my children my best.

I should strive to meet their needs to matter how tired I am.  I should always honor their faith in You and their trust in me.  After all, You put me here in their lives to meet their needs, to hear their cry.  To be Your presence in their tiny worlds.

I can perform the miracles of kissing boo-boos, fixing broken toys, reading another book, laughing at another joke I don’t really understand.

I can give them a hug when they stand under my elbows at dinnertime.  I can take five minutes to sit quietly with them until they finish their tantrum.  I can show my children they’re not a burden to me.

They’re special to me.  The mean the world to me.

And I’ll teach them of Your love by being Your presence to them in our home.  I’m going to be, not only a disciple of Christ, but Christlike.

Help me, Jesus.  Give me the grace to become more like You.  You my God are a perfect, flawless example to be imitated in every detail.  Help me to cultivate inmitation of You by following the example of Your generous love and compassion for the woman in the Gospel.  Let me not dismiss those in need as a burden to me, but teach me how to reach out to them as You would  I love You my Jesus.  Amen!

Your turn:

How is Jesus calling you to be Christlike today?  Who has He placed in your life, that needs your love and your mercy today?  How can You bring Christ’s presence to them?

I’m going to be, not only a disciple of Christ, but Christlike.  Tweet this.

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3 thoughts on “Christlike: don’t give them leftovers

  1. I love that you started this post by asking what are you trying to teach me. What a powerful way to view every time we read the Bible. In fact, what a powerful way to view every interaction that we have with every other member of God’s Kingdom. Thanks for the insight!


  2. Wow! You had me at the “great faith” part. I see the obvious connection to Jesus wanting us to have great faith. Then the idea of bringing this scripture passage into our motherhood really spoke to me! Great connection! It will be something to really think about during my time with my children. Thank you!


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