Accepting the Insult of Being Called a Dog

“Our Lord’s love shines out just as much through a little soul who yields completely to His Grace as it does through the greatest . . . Just as the sun shines equally on the cedar and the little flower, so the Divine Sun shines equally on everyone, great and small. Everything is ordered for their good, just as in nature the seasons are so ordered that the smallest daisy comes to bloom at its appointed time.”
— St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 4-5

In my lectio reading today, the Gospel passage was the account of the Canaanite woman who sought healing for her daughter.  Jesus seems rude to her. Matthew, one of Jesus’ closest followers reports, “He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” (Matt. 15:26 NRS)

To be referred to as a dog was one of the worst insults a person could receive in that time. It was intended to humiliate, degrade, and completely marginalize a person. You would think such an insult would result in the woman reacting to Jesus with insults of her own. This is not what she does. Instead, Matthew tells us she replies, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (Matt. 15:27 NRS)

We do no know if Jesus knew this woman would answer in this way. We do know that Jesus admired her faith and granted her the request she had brought to him. She had accepted the insult as an opportunity for mercy. We can learn from this story to accept those insults that are thrown our way and change them into opportunities for our faith to grow.

Some of us have been called names all of our lives. Somethings even people we love or like will attribute to us a label or make fun of us with a name. It is foolish to react. This may seem difficult to discern, but our willingness to accept the derogatory will result in our being given gifts from the divine.

Do not worry about what you are called, but instead, see the possibilities, the positives that even the most ill intended name can offer if we but just embrace it in our desire for the Lord. We all are sinners. What name could possibly be worse? We all are at sometime in our lives an enemy of God. Think of the horrible names this world creates for perceived enemies.  Yet we are told, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:10 NRS)

For such grace and love, I am willing to accept any insult, even the insult of being called a dog.