Monday, January 28, 2013

TLtS:Crumbs and Dogs

A friend at work and I discuss (gasp) religion.  I usually recite the scripture read at church the previous Sunday and the bits of the sermon.  We prefer sermons based on the Old Testament patriarchs, rather than the footloose and fancy-free apostles of the New Testament.  He usually regales me with excerpts from his effort to read-the-Bible-in-a-year. This time in King James, which he is finding a lot more enjoyable than other versions. 

As a parent, I just loved the reading the previous Sunday John 2:3-11; the Wedding at Cana.  Mary mentions that the wine is running low.  Jesus makes a scene like my teenage son when his mother would point out that his room needed to be picked up.  Mary’s response, to what some people consider rudeness on her son’s part?  She turns to the servants and says “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”   She doesn’t argue with her child, she just tells him how it is and expects it to be done.  What a great example of parenting! 

My buddy on the other hand is excited about Mark 7:24-28.  This is the scene starring a gentile woman with demon-possessed child.  Jesus more or less refuses to help her and calls her a dog.  Her famous response “Lord,“ she replied,“ even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”    I was about to point out how this is similar to Moses and Abraham arguing, cajoling and making deals with God in the Old Testament. (Gen 31:11, 18:23,  Num 14:12, 18:45) Expect my buddy was on roll.  “It’s like He knew what she was going to say and set her up. Jesus said, “Correct answer!  You win!”  (Mark 7:28 says something like “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” )  I immediately think of the Feast at Mecone (Hesiod, Theogony 5:45) where Zeus lets himself get “tricked” much to the benefit of mankind.  If I can give a mythical god this kind of credit for foresight and wisdom, how much more credit should I give the One True God?  My buddy proceeds to point out that Jesus was proving once and for always that the blessings of the Gospel were for gentiles too.  This seems like kind of a good point.   

So, now I re-thought the Wedding at Cana.  Scholars note that throughout the New Testament Jesus is fighting Mariology.  However, in this case, He could have done that by giving His mom a wink, pulling the wine steward aside and performing a discrete little miracle.  Instead, God in the Flesh made a scene out of the whole thing, in the process proving that He is subject to the fifth commandment.  And if God Almighty must honor His mother and father, then clearly the rest of us must!   

I’m having one of those “Duh!” moments now.  In Mark 5:24-32, when Jesus says “Who touched my clothes?”  Well, of course, He knew who touched the hem of His gown.  That’s like God entering the garden and asking Adam and Eve where they are.  Or a parent walking into a suddenly quiet room  full of toddlers and asking “What are you kids doing?”.  We all know what’s going on.  But the point Jesus made was “Daughter, your faith has healed you…”  Proving once and for always that “faith alone” is enough.   

So, now I need to review every  “scene” that Jesus makes in the Bible to see what He is really trying to point out to me and at the same time constantly recall that His wisdom is everlasting.  Like His love.


This Sunday the Gospel reading was; Luke 4:21-30 Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth."  Then things got uglyAnd he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town,and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away. 

Clearly what I've taken from this verses all theses years is that "No man is a phrophet in his own hometown." and that it's best not to bother and best to keep your mouth shut.  But, based on the "Jesus Made a Scene" rule I should look deeper.  My buddy whose more familiar with scripture and my Pastor saw clearly that the message is that God's love isn't just for His chosen people, but extends to all.  I guess the locals didn't like hearing that. 

Of course, with all my work in Classical  Studies, where my mind went was to the cliff.  In many ancient communities it was from here that you flung the annual scapegoat.  You know, the person sacrificed for all our sins, like Jesus. 

1 comment:

  1. The treatment of the gentile mother by Jesus has always outraged me.
    As for Zeus, I think he really was tricked at Mecone, but Hesiod didn't dare to write it in plain text.