I used to meet weekly with a wonderful group of clergy when I served churches in the area of Cleveland, Ohio. We studied the lectionary readings for the week ahead as an exercise in sermon preparation. Regardless of the scripture, the question we always asked was: “How will understanding this story help us grow into the person, or church, God is calling us to be?”
Today’s reading is a more of a stretch from the usual healings we hear about from Jesus. I believe its strangeness is what drew me to Debie Thomas’ commentary in Journey with Jesus. Thomas is the Director of Youth and Children’s Ministries at St. Mark’s Episcopal in Palo Alto, CA. She offers a graphic parallel, and then raises pertinent questions.
He haunts the places of the dead. Every night, the townspeople hear him, shrieking among the tombs. When they’re quick enough, they catch him, wrap his wrists and ankles in chains, and haul his naked body - securely shackled - back to town. But there’s no containing the crazy; he escapes each time. Trailing broken chains behind him, he wanders the wilds, tearing at his skin until it bleeds, trading one ind of pain for another. If he has a name, no one knows it. If he has a history, no one remembers it. If he has a soul worth saving inside his living corpse, no sees it. No one looks.
Until Jesus does...