“A man possessed by a demon, who was both blind and mute . . . .” – Matthew 12:22
One of my favorite hobbies is overdoing metaphors. I take them on longer trips than they wanted to make. I often hear them whine, “When are we going to get there?”
Today I want to take an appropriate length trip – although everything about spiritual living tells me that is a mistake. Just about everything that is worthy takes twice as long to arrive as we think it might.
The Matthew text is an actual matter first and then a metaphorical matter. The man was addicted or mentally ill or both? His culture interpreted his lack of control over himself as possession. He did not own himself. He was also blind and could not see, and mute and could not speak. His encounter with Jesus dispossessed him, opened his eyes and let him say words.
The opioid crisis comes to mind. You wonder why white addiction gets so much attention and still find yourself possessed with pain that people need so many pain killers to make it through their days.
The rate of church building closures also comes to mind. How can we not see what is hidden in plain sight?
The marches of white supremacists through Charlottesville also come to mind. Can’t you hear the Statue of Liberty trying to speak, to open her mouth, to get us to open our mouths, about the torch of liberty and not the torches of the KKK?
Possessed. Blind. Mute. All apply to us in the UCC. Jesus comes to give us control of ourselves, to throw out the demons, to help us OPEN our eyes and our mouths.
Thank you, Jesus, you whose word became flesh and transcended metaphor. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.