Saturday, August 13, 2011

War Scars

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Through bath time adventures, my son Spencer (who is 18 months) has learned to hold his breath when water surrounds him (well, at times). A survival skill amongst many that children learn (and parents are happy they do).

Skill came in handy at the pool just the other day when he unbalanced himself and submerged, falling backwards into the water. The look on his face was utter panic as he stared at me from under the surface of the water with frantic eyes that said, ‘I can’t get out – help me!’ In reflection on that moment, I experienced an extreme sense of responsibility as both he and I knew that I would be the only one to help him in his desperate need.

The Gospel reading for this Sunday highlights a desperate mother. Her daughter is tormented and in a moment, she realises she might be the only catalyst for aid for her daughter, so she seeks out the renowned healer, Jesus. She approaches him as I would surmise many of us would in a situation such as hers: with nothing left to lose. What worth are dignity and self-respect if they get in the way of helping those to whom we are closest from torment or even death?

Jesus responds to her, "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." Her response testifies to her ability to completely put aside herself for the need of her daughter: "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." How amazing is her humility in her need! I hardly know of a situation in my life that is yet comparable to the transparency of her need and I am drawn to her ability to recognise and prioritise what is most important in her. Jesus also recognises this in her – she is one who has nothing else to rely on except for her faith that Jesus will respond to her and her daughter’s need. As we see again and again in the Gospels, Jesus does not disappoint when presented with such child-like faith.

Spencer recovered well after his tumble in the pool and soon was running back in again to play. The only remnants of my humility of putting all aside to help him were the large wet patches on my shirt and shorts, a small price to pay for the health and well-being of someone I love dearly; a feeling I’m sure the Canaanite woman felt about her self-respect and dignity as well. It forces me to take time to consider what other remnants we wear, figuratively or literally, in the ebb and flow of our lives as a witness to our reliance on each other and on God.

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