As lawbreakers go, I am decidedly a third-rate scofflaw.
This point was highlighted for me the other day when, while driving home from daily Mass, I saw a police officer’s red-and-blue strobes “light up” just as I passed his unmarked vehicle.
“What the, what the…?” I thought as I pulled over – sort of half-expecting him to continue past me, chasing down some unseen real criminal further on down the road.
Alas: It was indeed me he had in his sights. And for what, you ask? Hitting a hellacious top speed of 30 miles per hour. “30 in a 20” is how the officer put it.
So: Guilty As Charged, I guess.
And a tad embarrassed, too. Surely, if one is to be hauled before a judge, it oughta be for something a bit more impressive than 30 mph. How humbling it is to realize that I am not just a sinner…but a miserable sinner: I don’t even speed well.
But my deeply bruised ego rallied a bit at Mass today, when I heard the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman. It’s an odd tale, on many different levels. We’re told that Jesus had left his home turf, and was making his way through foreign territory – the region of Tyre and Sidon. There, he encountered a woman from outside his tribe, most likely of an entirely different faith tradition.
As a “law follower”, in other words, she failed miserably. And Jesus didn’t hesitate to point this out.
…the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”
We learn through her example, though, that there’s a saving grace to be found in humility…in simply recognizing how we are all ultimately dependent on God’s providence and God’s mercy.
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”
It occurs to me that this is a point any one of us can miss, especially if we’re in the habit of doing “30 in a 20”. So perhaps there’s no better time than the Sabbath…for us to slow down and take a bit of time to appreciate all the blessings God pours out on us, on a regular basis.
Even the ones – like speed traps – that initially might seem more like “scraps from the table.”
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.