One thing I see a lot here in Haiti is free roaming dogs. Some of these dogs are vibrant, but many are markedly skinny, have poor hair coats, somewhat crusty eyes and carry the scars or limps of previous trauma. As an animal person, their fleeting glances scream out to me. Some days the compassion I feel for these creatures, hits me with a deep sorrow at my limitations to help all of them. (it is a privilege to assist the vet agent students as they learn to help some of these animals with parasite medicine, wound treatments, etc.) Other days I am more grounded in the realization, that these dogs are one symptom of a much larger need. The depth of the poverty here seemingly leaves no one - no child, no creature, nor even nature itself - unaffected. When you walk down the street, or look at the barren mountains, or drive by a river or the ocean, or take a breath (often laiden with dust or foul smoke), or greet people procurring water for their family, and yes, when you see a dog hoping for a next meal, you see it.
I am reminded of Mark 7:28, “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” The dogs of Samaria or Judea, like the dogs of Haiti, would in many cases have depended on "crumbs" or scraps. In one sense, this woman realized that a rising tide lifts all boats. This holds true for literal dogs too. In situations of such severe material poverty, the more on the table, the better the crumbs. Sustainable development that brings more resources and food to families, brings more food to children, and even the quality and quantity of the crumbs will increase.
At a deeper level, if we look at the context of this verse, This woman recognized the authority and power of Jesus. She sought an audience with him despite the fact that “his people” were not “her people”. Her faith was rewarded.
At this time of year, I imagine the US stores are filled with pastel peeps and bunnies. Synagogues prepare to remember the Passover. Churches likewise remember the sacrificial Lamb and prepare for resurrection Sunday. In Haiti, the RaRa bands take to the street in traditions rooted partially in defying those who historically claimed Christianity but didn’t actually treat others accordingly, and partially in something even darker. It’s a good time to consider, who was this Jewish carpenter from Nazareth? Not who other people or institutions say he is, but who is he really? His teaching was profound. His claims are incredible. As C.S. Lewis suggests, he cannot be merely a great moral teacher. He had to be either a liar (not moral), a lunatic (not wise), or Lord (as he claims).
In the natural, whenever someone follows Jesus’s teaching (whether consciously or not) the nourishing crumbs fall, reality is changed, and the world becomes a brighter place. Dogs, as just one example, will receive not just more crumbs, but better treatment.
Beyond the natural, its a good time to consider who He is to each of us, as that matters for both this world and the next.