December 15, 2010
As we consider God's theme of healing this week, there are two stories in the lectionary for today, both in the gospel of Matthew, Chapter 8, and both told in the synoptic gospels as well (more on synoptic gospels in older posts in this series) They are both accounts of Jesus healing and they come in the chapters woven in between Jesus' most famous teachings – the Sermon on the Mount, the Narrow Gate, and the Golden Rule, for example-and Jesus acting on those teachings. More than 20 of the miracles of Jesus in the Bible are healing miracles.
Now, if you haven't sent out your Christmas cards yet, Jesus probably doesn't have a miracle that will take care of them for you. You may as well take some deep breaths and enjoy some time spent in his word. Rest in him, and allow his peace to come upon you for a few minutes. What burden or infirmity do you carry with you today that keeps you from being refreshed in his presence? Prepare to release it in prayer.
Prayer: "Thank you, God, for inviting me always into your company. Today I want to let go of-----(feel free to name what you are allowing yourself to release)-------and heal the anxiety it causes in me. Let me be fully present with you in this moment and this place. Amen."
Jesus Heals Many
14 When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.
16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
"He took up our infirmities
and bore our diseases."
Jesus Restores Two Demon-Possessed Men
28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"
30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs."
32 He said to them, "Go!" So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
Jesus spent a long time talking to the crowds earlier in his sermon, but he never stopped at talking. He went further, to action. Jesus had only three short adult years to our knowledge to minister to the nation of Israel and establish his agenda of turning the world on its ear, so he didn't sit around. He noticed the opportunities in his path and met them on the spot.
I wish I could see the opportunities in my path and act upon them immediately. There are many of us who are, I imagine, like me. It's only after we get home from the market that we think, "Wait a minute. I could have called that friend of mine whose car is on the fritz to see if she would've liked a lift to do her shopping." Most of us have the presence of mind to think about the big stuff. I always flunk the really little things, things that might actually mean a difference to someone I care about. It's not that I'm thoughtless. It's just that I'm clueless.
Failing to act in compassionate, even healing ways has very little to do with lack of good intentions. Most people are just so bound up in worry or preoccupation with their own business or trouble that intentional acts of healing don't surface to the conscious mind.
I for one am grateful that Jesus acted consciously and intentionally to model spontaneous healing. I am grateful that Peter and the others inherited the consciousness and intention to reach out and heal in God's name. While no one expects us today to sit in Solomon's Colonnade and drive out demons, I think maybe Jesus hopes we'd develop the consciousness and intention to lay down the things that keep us from committing intentional acts of compassion when they lie in our path.
That we don't speaks to a deeper worry. If we are made in God's image, and we are the delight of a loving God who claims us as God's own, why would we cling to whatever it is that interferes with us behaving as much as possible like Jesus? When given the opportunity to be made whole, Peter's mother immediately arose and (you guessed it) began serving, the very thing Jesus' teaching is all about.
I'm ready for a little restoration here myself. How enjoyable it would be to envision shoving my preoccupations down the river bank with those pigs.
Prayer: "Heavenly Father and Mother, you create in your image. Is it any wonder that it is in our nature to wish to help other people's suffering and discomfort when we can? Help us to forgive ourselves our missed opportunities, and release the worries and preoccupations that interfere with our ability to serve each other in your name. Amen."
Blessings on your way!
For further reading today: