Lying with dogs


My mom use to tell me, “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” She told me this because she didn’t like the company I was keeping. I have to admit that I often ran with dogs and ended up with fleas. Yet, I found that it is not always a bad thing to be in the company of dogs.

Lazarus laid at the gates of Dives, the rich man. Day after day, he begged for bread and Dives ignored him. The Lord doesn’t give us any reasons why the rich man was so hard hearted. It seems that Lazarus never complained about his situation or cursed the rich man for his hard heart. No one else seemed to help him either.

Is this story without any charity at all? Well, charity can come from unusual sources. It seems that only the dogs had compassion, for they licked Lazarus’ sores. This may sound gross, but it was an act of mercy because it kept the sores clean and free of infection. It’s such an incredible contrast: the rich man with a poor heart, and the poor dogs with big hearts. Who knows, maybe all dogs do go to heaven.

How hard hearted can we be? Would you tend to believe someone that had just returned from the dead? The brothers of Lazarus wouldn’t believe it because they had refused to believe Moses or the Prophets. They would never believe a dead man come to life. I’m glad that we modern folks are not so hard-hearted. Oh wait! We did hear from someone who came back from death. Did we believe Him?

What makes us so hard hearted that we never see Lazarus? It’s a matter of perspective, really. We never see it from dog’s level.

First, we pay our taxes and the state runs the welfare system, and so we rarely see a beggar. But does it have to be a man lying by our door? There are so many around us, even in our church, who hurt and cry and beg for love, but we do not see them. We are not at dog level.

Then, we believe that since we have a welfare system, anyone who sits by the interstate exit begging for bread is just lazy and chooses not to work. I’ve had the experience of being chased by a beggar who would not be refused. I thought that if he had the strength to chase me, he had the strength to work. Of course, I was sure that he would just spend it on booze. I was not at dog level.

Finally, we are building the ancient tower of Babel. Science and technology promise to open the gates of paradise, where there will be no sickness or hunger, and we are true believers. I remember the day when the Challenger Shuttle exploded. We were sitting in a pizza restaurant watching a big screen TV. What a shock it was. It was a tragic loss, but to me this event was a bit of an icon. It reminded me that no matter how high we build our towers, we are not gods and our technology will not make it so. And so, we are blinded by our own cleverness and we rarely see Lazarus starving in agony at our gates. Jesus said that the poor would always be with us. Our cleverness keeps us from seeing things from the dog level.

To lie with the dogs means that we see the world through the eyes of humility. Lazarus kept the company of dogs and learned humility. He kept a soft heart and ended up in the bosom of Abraham (that is a soft place for soft hearts). The hard heart of Dives led him to hell.

Lord, may I forever lie with the dogs and lick the wounds of Lazarus.

P.S. To the aficionados of grammar, I understand the lie/lay situation. I just wanted to play with it and quote it as my mother
quoted it to me.

5 Responses to “Lying with dogs”

  1. katia Says:

    Amen father, may i keep you company?

  2. Suzanna Says:

    Wonderful post. Thank you.

  3. frjohn Says:

    Of course, my sister. But bring your own dog!! 🙂

  4. Joseph Says:

    I lost one of my two dogs recently and am still heart-broken. My other is curled on my bed right now, snoozing away — UNDER the covers if you please. I recommend an animated music video called ‘God n Dog’ by Wendy Francisco. Like Lazarus who hoped for succour and protection from the rich man, they depend on us, and yet at rock bottom time, we depend on them too. ‘To be’ means ‘to be in relationship’ to God, to self, to Other, even canine other. I miss my dog and hope I will see him again in the next life. I have fundamentalist friends who insist heaven is for humans only, but another points out that in Revelations, describing the end time and the transition to the new world, Christ will appear on a white horse and there will be the Tree of Life, i.e. both animals and plants. Still, that tree would be an awful temptation to my dog….

  5. BethAnna Says:

    I learn so much from my dog, Jess. She never complains even though she eats the same kibble day in and day out every single day. I often wonder if I would be able to do the same and then suddenly I’m acutely aware of how attached to my taste buds ie my flesh, I am. She is completely dependent on me and my care – and her trust is absolute, she never questions it when I take her to the vet or stick something in her ears or open her mouth to look down her throat. I want to be like that with my Father. She’s gentle with babies and immediately is drawn to someone in emotional need – for the thought that dogs don’t have emotional compassion. .. I beg to differ – I want to be like that. She teaches me. . . she’s such a gift. Thank you for posting this – great post!

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