Today’s Gospel story seems more fitting for the big-screen horror film than it does for a Scripture reading: a dramatic encounter between Jesus and an unclean spirit; a man with an unclean spirit who cannot be controlled, and even a flock of swine running into the sea and drowning.
The parables Jesus used were excellent teaching tools. We may not understand them at first or second reading, but they engage our minds, are memorable, and invite us to discern meaning. They may speak to us of personality, the senses, the nature of light, the perception of things, or interpersonal relations.
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So, in the tradition of teachers in my family (and the fact that it’s a Friday), I have a pop quiz for you. What word would you use to describe the gospel readings from Tuesday till today? If you answered “healing,” then we’d be on the same wavelength. It’s been said that if you want to make a point, you need to use ample evidence, and if you want it to be remembered, then you need to have repetition.
Yesterday was a first for me; a doctor, a podiatrist, made a house call to see my Mom. After the doctor left and I read and reflected on today’s gospel, I had a deeper understanding of Jesus, the Divine Physician’s house call to see Simon’s mother-in-law.
Department stores, bus terminals, big hotels, and many other places where humans congregate often have a Lost and Found counter or section. People who have lost something can address themselves to whoever is in charge and reclaim whatever they have lost. What is impressive about a Lost and Found department is the number of valuable belongings that are never reclaimed. Somehow it seems their owners were either too lazy to reclaim them, too busy with some other concern, or too forgetful to have noticed their loss.
Have a little faith. Maybe you’ve had someone say those words to you, or perhaps you’ve said them to someone to offer them hope during a tough time. These words form the title of a good Mitch Albom book about two men (one a rabbi and the other a protestant minister) whose lives encourage others to believe in God when everything around them signals that they should give up and throw in the towel.