Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ordinary 13 Wednesday

The other day I was in a convenience store checkout line behind a sloppy-looking guy buying a twelve-pack of beer, a carton of cigarettes, and a "girlie" magazine, and he seemed very uncomfortable standing next to a priest in a clerical collar. The presence of a public representative of Jesus Christ, I think, reminded him that there were things about his life he needed to change, and he felt guilty.
We encounter this same sort of dynamic in today’s gospel. Jesus liberated and healed two violent, possessed men at the edge of town. One would think the townsfolk would be happy and want Jesus to stay around for awhile. Instead, they beg Jesus to leave.

Why? It’s all about their pigs. Remember: this gospel was written by a Jewish Christian for people just like him. And for Jews, to keep or eat pigs was disobedience to God’s law. Jesus’ presence amongst the townsfolk reminded them of this. Their pigs were like the girlie magazine for the convenience store guy. Like him, they felt uncomfortable when Jesus showed up, and they made him go away.

Sometimes we’re tempted to do the very same thing about the unredeemed corners of our lives. When Jesus shows up, we feel guilty, and we’re forced to make a decision: We can repent and change our ways; or we can tell Jesus to leave us alone. Our Lord is gracious and will never force himself upon us. He’ll leave us alone so our lives will stay the same; but he’d rather we invite him to stay, so he can change our lives to be more like his.

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