There are two rationalizations that I find particularly bothersome. The first is: “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.” The second rationale I find particularly troubling.: It goes along the lines of “Don’t give money to a beggar because they’ll only spend it on drugs (or booze).”
The problem with this is it sounds like wisdom, and it convinces us that we are actually helping the person by not giving to them.
The scene is that Peter just declared that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus tells him not to tell anyone that. Jesus then immediately begins to teach that he is going to die. Peter gets upset and chastises Jesus for saying that he would die. Jesus then rebukes Peter and says that he is behaving like an enemy and is out of line. And to put the exclamation point on the sentence, he then says the words above.
A Christian died in the streets of Boston,
He had no home to rest his weary head.
Being more like Christ than all the lost ones
Who securely dwell in stately homes,
He lived on the streets through which he roamed,
And by god’s hand, like a sparrow, was fed.
What Jesus esssentially tells us is that what we are worrying about becomes our master, and Jesus tells us that we cannot have two masters because we will come to love one and hate the other. He tells us we cannot serve both God and money, but the money he is talking about is not simply money as it is, but money as we make it: the key to our security and our survival. Money becomes the answer to our worries — or so we think — so we seek wealth to ensure we have food and clothing and housing and medical care and all the other things we need to survive.
This woman, who did not have much status if any in the society of the time, who was also hindered by the fact that she was a foreigner, confronted the King of the Jews and reminded him that Canaanite Lives Matter!” And Jesus, confronted by this challenge, agrees.
The danger we have as faithful people reading and hearing the Gospels is that we can often dismiss the Pharisees and others as simply being enemies of Christ, and therefore, they are of no concern for us who are Christian. Yet, the Pharisees are a cautionary tale for the “religious” Christians: we can get so caught up in our own purity and righteousness, we forget that we are sinners like everyone else, and we demand people be like us, instead of being with them wherever they are — we demand sacrifice and ignore mercy. We become spiritual tax-collectors — abusing, extorting, threatening, coercing in the name of God.
I always think how disappointed the paralyzed man must have been when Jesus declared his sins forgiven. I know we are all religious, so the sin part seems to be obvious, but the man is not brought to Jesus to be forgiven, but to be healed.