Naam mai koy mii kha. I had trudged two kilometres uphill to reach the seventh level waterfall, the top of Erawan Falls. In a Thai polite way, it means, “there is not quite enough water”. I muttered an impolite rude word. I was disappointed with the sight before me. I mused at the politeness, their choice not to curse, rather to accept. I realized that beneath that disappointment, I was happy to have made it to the top. I felt fulfilled from the journey of the climb.
On my way down I met panting pilgrims on the way up. I offered information that there wasn’t water cascading at the top. I was greeted with the same disappointment but every one of them trudged onwards and upwards. I had half expected them to give up and go back down. I realized then that I was no Moses coming down the mountain, no prophet they would listen to. Suddenly the message of today’s readings came to life. I had struggled with Jesus’ rudeness.
“He replied, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.’ She retorted, ‘Ah yes, sir; but even house-dogs can eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.’” (Gospel)
The message of today’s reading is that Christ brought salvation to all mankind. In Jesus’ time this politeness was extended to pagans and Gentiles, fulfilling Isaiah. “Foreigners who have attached themselves to the Lord to serve him and to love his name and be his servants – all who observe the sabbath, not profaning it, and cling to my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain.” (First Reading).
I mused on the scraps that fall from the master’s table. We are panting pilgrims. Daily life experiences with its emotional ups and downs is a spiritual journey. Often arduous, this journey is like a climb to the top when our life completes. In life it seems that God does not always deal a fair hand. No one completes a suffer-free journey. Many even suffer throughout life. At times it feels that our spiritual life is feeding on scraps on mercy.
The panting climbers `underlined a realization. I took away the expectation of a beautiful sight as a form of reward for their journey, but I could not take away their spirit of wanting just to complete the journey. I realize the human in me is noisy. He seeks gratification externally, here to behold the sight of a cascading waterfall. The absence of that brought out a presence in me. There was that quiet fulfilment in me of having completed my journey despite not quite the way the human in me had expected. I carried down with me that scrap of satisfaction.
Circumstances in life will always continue to deal us bad hands. We always had grand expectations when we embark on journeys in relationships and careers. Often these expectations disappeared midway, but we continued trudging on through life. Our spirit continued to hold on to hope and faith, even if we did not realize it. We have all been through these everyday life experiences. In every disappearing expectation, we must look beneath our noisy human self to find that scrap of mercy holding our spirit together.
“God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice”. (Second Reading)
God gave us the gift of life. The Canaanite woman emphasized a realization. God’s mercy is for everyone; Mercy expressed as unconditional love. This mercy accompanies us through everyday life. God appears to us in the form of hope. He does not feed us scraps. Our everyday life is a journey back to God our Creator. When this journey is over, our life will be fulfilled, waterfall or no waterfall. God does not revoke his choice.
We are panting pilgrims and we journey on in faith. Onwards and upwards.
20th Ordinary Sunday