Jesus tested the Canaanite woman, saying he could not give the children’s bread to dogs. It must have hurt her bitterly, but she knew she was in the right, so she didn’t give up. Our slang word for what that woman had is spunk. She had a lit of spunk. She reminds me of an old Navy song, “If you have to take a lickin’ carry on and quit your kickin’.”
I was trying to recall instances where people I know showed spunk. I often brag on my sister Peg who raised thirteen kids, getting them through college. When she was told she had inoperable cancer she told me, “Don’t worry, I can handle it.” That showed spunk. She showed even more spunk six months later when she was actually dying. She said, “I was foolish to say I could handle it. I can handle death, but I need help handling dying.”
I also brag on Phil Crosby, my priest neighbor in Korea. On June twenty-fifth, 1950 when the Commies came down on his parish he decided on staying in case he could still function. Instead he was subjected to three years of an imprisonment in which more than half of his companions died. Released, he came back to his old parish. One evening I found him on my doorstep after he had walked twenty-five miles over the high mountains to me. “Why’d you do it, Phil?” “Well, Thos, I can’t expect the people to walk long distance to Mass if I won’t walk myself.”
The cases with Peggy and Phil were different from the Canaanite woman not giving up, but all three had spunk.