The Portal July 2018 - Page 24

THE P RTAL July 2018 Page 24 Mad dogs and Englishmen! By Julia Beacroft Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their Master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. I N our reflections on the months of the year, we come to the wonderful month of July – a time when the sun is supposed to shine and when the hot sultry weather of summer usually begin. Sadly, we are often disappointed as the temperamental British weather all too often lets us down, but when the sun does indeed shine and the sky is blue, there is no better place to be that this small island called Great Britain, which we, in turn, call home. We know that we are often laughed at by our European brothers and sisters for our obsession with the great British climate and also the fact that it so often rains during our summer months. Only a couple of years ago, a young Spanish girl told me that I lived in a ‘raining country’, in answer to her question about where I was from. On the other hand, we are equally teased because we sometimes have no idea how to manage hot spells of weather either! We are not participants in the siesta and all too often we get sunburnt and exhausted as we neglect to take the correct precautions against the sun. It has to be said that the phrase ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun’ can seem particularly apt! Yet this particular expression has always – perhaps bizarrely – reminded me of the passage from St Matthew’s Gospel (given above), where the Canaanite woman pleaded with the Lord to help her. Her daughter was suffering and she knew that Jesus could alleviate this. Yet surprisingly Jesus refuses, stating that he has come for the Jews alone, but the woman gives such a convincing counter-argument that Jesus immediately heals her daughter. This story is as relevant for us today as it was then, as it refers to race and culture as well as faith. But you are probably wondering why this wonderful account reminds me of the words ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun’? The explanation is quite simple really… The woman refers to ‘dogs’, which were doubtless mad to receive the scraps from the table. Both Jesus and the woman were probably out and about in the heat of the sun and finally the story refers to race – Canaanites and Jews – and English are merely another race. And so it is that as a nation who are often obsessed with climate, we can also be a nation of great faith. We may be like mad dogs as we risk the heat of the mid- day sun, but like the dogs in the Gospel we too can receive the crumbs that fall from the masters table. We too can receive Jesus. Copyright © 2018 Julia Beacroft, author, editor, workshop leader and presenter in Catholic faith formation. Her book ‘Sanctifying the Spirit’ is available to buy from AMAZON, or Book Depository. Please visit for more information. Follow Julia on Facebook & Twitter