A Syrophoenician begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.”
Was the Lord having a bad day? Was he sick (and tired) of all these sick people coming to him? In today’s Gospel, it sure sounds like it: “Jesus went to the district of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, but he could not escape notice.”
It always seems as though people want to speak to me, visit me or call on me right before I take a break for breakfast, lunch or dinner; right after I change into my pajamas; right before bed; or right before I take a flight and leave for vacation! I am sure you can understand what I mean.
So, was the Lord under a lot of stress? No, I don’t think so. Why? Because he knew how to be both humble and truthful.
I can get along with just about anyone in this world. What makes it possible? The fact that I can tell them exactly what I think and I can accept whatever they think. I might be wrong and they might be wrong, but it is never a façade. How often does one hear, “I don’t like such and such person” or “I don’t care to be around this or that person.” What this really means is, “I can’t be upfront with this or that person.” I think an individual’s stress level goes up when they can’t have an honest dialogue with someone or when they can't be humbled by someone. After all, who feels like walking on eggshells? Who feels like weighing every single word you say? Who likes being told the truth? It’s not worth it!
The Lord was very upfront with everyone. Some liked it. Others hated it. As for me, I most enjoy being with those who can handle it. A saint once said, “Charity begins with honesty, and honesty is humility.”
Being a priest, you meet many wonderful couples and families. Often, I cannot even remember how I first met them. It may have been through their children on retreat. It may have been when they greeted me after one of my Masses. But in the six years I have been in Dallas, I have felt at home in their homes.
About two weeks ago, I had dinner with one such family, the Olivas family. I celebrated a special Mass for their two daughter’s 15th birthday celebration. Their two sons invited me to go to school with them on grandparents or “best friend” day. I have had dinner over their home on countless occasions and have heard their confessions whenever they asked. About three weeks ago, I heard Mary’s confession. Things were going well. Life was good. This past Tuesday, she sent me a text message. Yesterday afternoon she died. That evening I received a haunting text from her daughter, “My mom passed away.” I couldn’t believe it! Mary was a devoted wife, a loving mother, a wonderful spiritual sister, a great friend, a very holy woman. I don’t know how old she was, but I believe Mary and I were just a few years apart.
Mary was an incredible woman. She loved God; she loved her faith. She was a champion for orthodoxy. She was a believer in high standards and high morals. She loved to stand up for the Church and loved to stand her ground. But I believe Mary’s greatest attribute was her honesty and humility. She knew how to be honest and humble with everyone in a loving and God-filled manner.
The Lord gave her a tough life and a short life. One could even say, “He gave her scraps.” But come to think of it, all our lives are lived off of scraps when compared to the banquet in Heaven.
How often must we remind ourselves that the only way to live life is by committing ourselves to it!
Therefore, don’t live it for the now or later, but for now and later!