Most of us have at least one pet of some kind. We have them for a variety of reasons: It gives us a sense of comfort having them around. They help keep all kinds of creatures from taking over our homes. They please our children. They are a form of security for our home. They are like having children around for empty nesters. And lastly, they eat the crumbs under our tables and other places in our homes!
For me, I experience much from my pet called Pompey. He is a Maltese. Pets can be like angels to us and love us unconditionally. That sense of being a friend to us can help our attitudes in our daily living. Our relationship with our pets is a two-way street. We receive from them and we return the favor by pampering them, holding them, petting them and letting them have the crumbs under our table in addition to a few special treats. We are their masters, and they love us.
The Gospel according to Matthew tells us, in the 15th Chapter, the story of the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus for the removal of a demon that had possessed her daughter. We learn how Jesus was willing to embrace non-believers that surrender to Him. At first Jesus ignored her and she began to bother the disciples. They begged Jesus to send her away, but He told them that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But things began to change for the Canaanite women.
In Chapter 15:25-28 we hear, “Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
There is another deeper aspect I learn from having my dog Pompey. He shows me an example as to how my relationship with God should work. Not that I am a god to Pompey, but his way of relating to me, his master, is how I should relate to God, my Master.
Pompey seeks my presence nearly all the time. When I’m around, he wants to sit with me on my chair or on the couch. He wants me to reach out and pet him and talk to him. Even though he doesn’t fully understand what I say to him, he senses my tone of voice and knows that I love him and like being with him. And of course, if he needs to go outside to do his duties, he lets me know with his paws or a bark. He doesn’t want to do the wrong thing in his master’s house. His eating the crumbs, under my table, is a bonus for me and him as together we keep our house clean.
Jesus is the living Word of God. In the story of the Canaanite woman, He lets us know that no matter who we are, where we come from or what we have done, He receives us and blesses us when we turn to Him and surrender ourselves to Him in our lives.
As we play masters to our pets, let us observe them, and learn from them. We can certainly see many comparisons as to how we should relate to our Master in Heaven, in seeing how our pets relate to us, their master. One of the traits that our pets have is unconditional love for us. Now that is surely something that we humans struggle with. Even though our greatest commandment from the Lord instructs us, our pets have an edge on us in fulfilling this commandment.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extention: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.