Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
"First let the children eat all they want," he told her, "for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs."
"Lord," she replied, "even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."
Then he told her, "For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter."
For years now, my husband, Danny, and I have fed our backyard birds. It gives us great pleasure to watch how the feeders attract such a variety of feathered friends depending on the season.
But the birds aren't the only ones who benefit from our charity. We also spread a generous helping of sunflower seeds on the ground for the squirrels, the occasional chipmunks, and ground-feeding birds to enjoy.
One morning as I exit the back door of our garage, a seed-filled pitcher in my hand, I notice three deer lying quietly in the far corner of our yard. They raise their heads and watch me, but they neither flinch nor bat an eyeball at my presence. In this neck of the woods, the deer are used to being in close proximity with humans, though I'm sure if I were to get too close, they'd vacate the premises pronto.
I move slowly and deliberately as I refill our feeders, sprinkle the ground with the remaining seed, and retreat as fast as I dare to the house to fetch my camera. I simply can't resist this photo-op!
When I return to the garage door, camera in hand, I fully expect to find the deer resting just where I left them. Wrong! This is the scene that greets me instead.
One of the deer, either out of inquisitiveness or a foreknowledge of the tastiness of sunflower seeds, is browsing away, happily lapping up every seed intended for the squirrels.
Party crasher! How dare you gobble up food not meant for you!
And at the moment I entertain this uncharitable thought, God replaces it with the remembrance of the Greek woman, a Gentile, who begged Jesus to heal her daughter. Just like the deer, this woman is a party crasher, barging uninvited into a closed circle where the Lord is ministering to a Jewish audience, the ones who could fully understand the significance of the Messiah.
The woman knows she is out of place, a lowly dog nosing for scraps, but she is desperate. And her faith is so strong in Jesus' ability to heal her child, that even a crumb of His power would be more than enough to do the job.
I wonder, too, if this incident became a turning point in Jesus' outlook on His ministry. With fully human eyes, had He only thought His Father sent Him exclusively to the Chosen People? In this very instance, was the balance tipped with the glorious prospect that no, He had not come for one group, but for all?
All of us?
The deer raises her head and regards me with her deep-brown, lustrous eyes as if she's saying, "Thank you."
"You're welcome," I whisper. "Come and join the feast."
Jesus is inviting you to join the feast. Will you come?
Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your beloved Son, Christ Jesus, to bring salvation and hope to each and every one of us. Because of His sacrifice on the cross, we are washed in His blood, forgiven our sins, and invited to partake of the Heavenly Feast spread lovingly before us. It is in Jesus' precious name, we pray. Amen.