Today's gospel reading from the daily office is from Luke 8, the story of the man possessed by a legion of demons. Not unlike most of scripture, this is a weird story. The demons within the man appeal to Jesus not to cast them into the abyss. In my comic book way of thinking I expect this: Jesus=good, demons=bad, so the good guy should pretty much cast the bad guy into the abyss, right? The weird thing is that when the demons suggest that they could leave the man's body and enter that herd of pigs on the hill over there, Jesus says, "OK". Huh? Does Jesus show compassion even for demons? If so then perhaps I should attempt to show compassion to members of the Religious Right. At this point the demons enter the swine, who then all run down into the river and drown themselves. So does that end the demons too? Who knows. Poor pigs though, right? I guess as a first century Jew, Jesus' highest concern was probably not for the well being of pigs.
What I love the most is what Jesus tells the man now free from his demons. He wanted to go with Jesus (who was sent out of the town because the townsfolk were afraid of his having healed the demonic), but Jesus said "Go home and tell what God has done for you". Isn't this all God asks of us in a way? Recognize what God is doing in the world and tell people about it.
I don't have much problem telling of God's work in the world and in my life when it is positive in nature, but when there are disappointments (like yesterday's race) I tend to focus on what I did, is this perhaps another form of self-centeredness? I love the 16th century Spanish mystic Teresa of Avila who, at the end of her unbelievably beautiful writings she would always say something to the effect of: If there was something written here that was enlightening or helpful it came from God, if it was not, it came from me.
Please cast my demons (self-centeredness, pride, addiction, self-loathing, envy) into whatever herd of swine might be available. Then give me the eyes to see that this is your work and to speak of it continually - but not so much that people think I'm crazy and then stop listening.
In Jesus' name,