The lesson of the crumbs
Today, once again we find Jesus on the road, teaching and healing, placing signs of love and grace along the way, and ever more becoming Himself THE sign of God’s grace, love, and mercy.
As you know, as He went along teaching, Jesus used a lot of creative imagery to describe His message, the Good News.
He told the multitudes that the Kingdom of Heaven was like a pearl of great price or like a hidden treasure. He described the world that God was intent in bringing about as a good seed that grows and brings fruit to the land. The Kingdom, He said, was like the mustard seed – small enough to be ignored but with a refreshing flavor and huge growth potential. At other times it was like a gathering net, or table salt. Of course, as we know, elsewhere in the Gospel Jesus speaks of the kingdom in terms of light, fire, and living water.
Now, however, it is not Jesus who is offering an image and encouraging his followers to think on the implications of His words. This time it was not one of the disciples coming with a brilliant idea but an “Outsider,” with a big capital “O.” Not a Jew but a Phoenician – A Gentile! – And a woman at that!
The story you know. The woman calls on Jesus to do something for her child when everything else has already failed. Her daughter is sick, and as mothers all over the world would do, she would not leave stone unturned to find healing for her beloved child.
Somehow, she hears about Jesus which, obviously, she recognized as someone who could help her. Leaving everything back home, even her ailing child, she walks down from her village and begins to plead her case. And does she plead!
She continues to insist until eventually, the disciples begin to treat her as a nuisance, and not being able to deal with her they pass the buck to the “Boss.”
Jesus, at first, dismissed her. But the woman, in her desperation, pressed on. She would not give up! I believe that Jesus was ready to send her away when – unexpectedly – Jesus finds himself rather than He being the Teacher, now He turns into a student.
“You see,” says the woman, “Even puppies eat the crumbs at their masters’ table.” I can imagine our Lord’s opening wide his eyes – “Yeah! You’ve got it. Crumbs!” And then, turning around He says, “That’s faith! That’s the kind of faith to build up the kingdom of mercy, love, and grace that my Father is intent in creating!” And, after complimenting her for her insight, sends her back home to find her child restored to health.
The Kingdom of God is like pearls? Yes… Hidden treasure? Yes… Mustard seed… Hmmm… if you say so. But crumbs?
What is it in a crumb that makes it a sign of the Gospel? Have you ever thought that coming? Even Jesus had it not, for He says… “Wow, yeah! She’s right!” “A crumb!” Let us take a minute to consider a crumb.
First, a crumb points to ultimate surrender.
A crumb is a product of something larger. One does not make bread out of crumbs, rather the other way around. Crumbs are the byproduct of taking and breaking. However, we do know that a crumb points to a whole that has been broken, to a point of no return, to ultimate surrender.
Let me suggest that at the heart of the Gospel there is a place where we should be ready to be broken. Even if it is counter-intuitive, wholeness can only be found in brokenness. We are healed whenever we are taken, broken, and shared in love. How do we know when we arrive to such a place? How does a piece of bread know when no longer is a morsel, but it is a crumb?
Perhaps the sign of the crumb points us to the place where the Gospel is no longer something that we believe in or we do at certain times, but when we realize that “regular” life becomes the “add on” to our true life in the Spirit.
Second, a crumbs points to the power of small.
A crumb, in its smallness points to the opposite of “supersizing” something to make it worthy of value. A glass of water is a whole sign of the kingdom. A hug, a word of encouragement, or any act of kindness is a sign of the kingdom.
Huge cathedrals, large crowds, and big praise bands are fine – However, we should remember the words of our Savior: “When two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” We should always remember – particularly during this pandemic season where our possibilities are limited that the smallest crumb of grace has healing, transforming, and redeeming power.
Finally, a crumb point beyond itself.
Have you ever tasted a crumb of a brownie? What comes to mind? To eat the whole piece! Our patron saint, St David, is credited with asking his monks to be mindful of “the little things.” One translation, The Message, puts it this way, “Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (Colossians 3:17).
And when we do so, the smallest and tiniest crumb will raise the hope of our final and complete unity in the love of Christ, and the final and very real victory of life over death, love over hatred, reconciliation over estrangement.
Crumbs of the Kingdom – An open door, a hymn, a song, a smile, or a nod in understanding. A tear, a sigh, a hush, or a hand stretched out in prayer. Water, Bread, Wine, and a Cross uplifted, all point to heavenly grace, mercy and love. Crumbs of the Kingdom for the healing of the world. Let us pray that in the hands of the Master we too may be broken and given for the sake of others and to the glory of God. Amen.