For those of us who are used to having a place at the table, perhaps we need to be reminded that none of us has any right or privilege whatsoever to claim with God. We all come as beggars to the table, and it is solely by God’s grace that we are fed. Perhaps we need also to be reminded that God’s table is immeasurably larger than we can imagine.
For those who identify more easily with the Syrophoenician woman begging for crumbs, it must be said that Jesus does not leave any of us in a state of beggarliness. He seats us at the table and claims us as God’s beloved children — children from every tribe and language and nation. Even crumbs from the table would be enough for our healing and salvation. But Jesus has given more than enough. He sets an abundant, life-giving feast for all.
All are welcome.
Who are those who do not have a place at our tables? Do we find their persistence in seeking a place irritating? Do we listen to their needs? Are our hearts warmed as Jesus’ was at their belief in us and their confidence that we will respond? How large do you see God’s table? Where do you stand on this?
But the woman had come up and was bowing low before him. ‘Lord,’ she said, ‘help me.’He replied, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to little dogs.’ She retorted, ‘Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, you have great faith. Let your desire be granted.’ And from that moment her daughter was well again.
In order to make others feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged, the church must have open doors so that all might enter. And we must go out of those doors and proclaim the Gospel.
Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same—with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.
We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God’s family.
The more we feel concern for others and seek their well-being, the more friends we will have and the more welcome we will feel.
The next time you want to withhold your help, or your love, or your support for another for whatever the reason, ask yourself a simple question: do the reasons you want to withhold it reflect more on them or on you? And which reasons do you want defining you forevermore?
There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.