Have you heard about the VDP’s? No, not the VIP’s – the Very Important People, but the Very Draining people – the VDP’s?
Spent half an hour with a VDP, your will feel like a deflated balloon! Try and encourage a VDP, you will come back discouraged! They have a PhD in finding the one black spot in a sea of white. They are spiritual black holes who suck the life out of you.
Being around VDP’s can often disillusion you. They have a special gift in making you feel like the whole world is against you and that your life is useless! We can get seriously discouraged, disheartened and deceived.
Oh yes, we all have our share of VDP’s in our life and so did Jesus. But how did Jesus handle them? How did He overcome their influence?
St. Mark chapter 7: 1-30 offers three clues to doing just that.
The traditionalist of His day, the Pharisees, who vehemently opposed Jesus’ teachings, pick a fight with Him by pointing out that His disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating. Jesus gives them a ‘thappad’ (means slap on the face in Hindi) so to speak, saying – ‘yes, your hands may be clean, but your hearts certainly are not,’ a saying which offended them!
The traditionalist worked hard at cleaning their outside and fooled (almost) everyone by putting on a great spiritual ‘show’. But Jesus who saw through their deception, at the dirt in their hearts said, ‘This people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me’ (vs 6).
The heart of the traditionalist is filled with jealously, pride and love for control. Jesus saw that.
Then He says probably one of the most powerful (yet sometimes mis-understood) statements: “Whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him.” “But what defiles a man is what comes out of the heart of men…” (vs 15).
St. John Cassian captured Christ’s idea well when he said – Man is like a glass. If it is not cleaned on the inside, it is in vain that we work hard to wash it on the outside, because it will never be clean.
Lesson learned: Don’t be fooled by the external show of spirituality. Ask for God’s grace to see ‘through’ the deception, into the ‘heart’ of things.
These traditionalists had come all the way from Jerusalem. That is a long way indeed! And for what? To find fault! (vs 2) And guess what Jesus did?
‘From there He arose and went …’ (vs 24)
He left! After He said what He had to say, He simply left.
Sometimes leaving does not mean physically – but emotionally. It could mean leaving that WhatsApp group spewing venomous messages daily or, stopping reading the FB posts in a group or by an individual which is targeted gossip, or it could mean not answering a negative person’s phone call or even telling him/her directly that you don’t want to hear things that destroy and tear down your faith.
Jesus didn’t stay around to convince them, have dinner with them, argue with them or build a relationship with them! Jesus knew that as long as they tried to cover their evil intentions, there is nothing He could do except leave. If Jesus, God on earth, had to ‘leave’ the company of the VDP’s, don’t you think there is a lesson for us to learn there?
Lesson applied: We must keep our ‘hearts’ undefiled. Bad company corrupts good character. If needed, leave. PSALM 1:1-3
That saying means – don’t miss the larger picture by focusing on small things. Sometimes we get so caught up with something someone said or did that we really miss the larger picture.
To see the larger picture all that is needed is a change of scenery! Jesus leaves his hometown and the VDP’s behind and goes to a different place.
A woman, an outsider to the faith searches Jesus out. Although He wanted to remain hidden, THE LIGHT (St. John 1: 4) cannot be hidden!
She’s crying, begging, pleading. Her young daughter is sick. Her desperation is obvious to everyone including the disciples (St. Matt 15:23); everyone, but Jesus (or so it seems).
Jesus tells her, I have been sent to give ‘food’ to the ‘sons’ of the house (referring to the Jewish people) and I can’t give that ‘food’ to the pet dogs (referring to the non-Jewish).
But I love her audacity when she says – I really don’t need the ‘food’. All I need are the ‘crumbs’ which fall from those eating the ‘food’ on a table!
It’s like the Centurion who says – Lord, I don’t need a book, a sermon, or even a sentence. All I need is ‘one word’ from you!
Can you see Jesus’ face light up? Can you see Him turning to those around Him and pointing to this woman? Hey – look here! Did you hear what she said? This is faith! This is what I am pleased by! O Woman, great is your faith, He says!!! That woman’s daughter was healed from that very hour!!!
Lesson learned: There are many who are in need of the light of the gospel. Just because some didn’t recognize it, don’t stop sharing the light. St. Mathew 5:14-16
The VDP’s will always be there – don’t be deceived.
They will travel far to pick a fight with you – don’t fight back.
Open your eyes and see those in need – go to them.