Monday, October 3, 2011
And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. Matthew 8:28-34
Pigs have a habit of being considered dirty and repulsive. We use the term pig to describe the overweight, the lecherous, the gluttonous or those who abuse power and wealth. Being a pig seems to be a universally understood term of dismissal, and we find children taunting others by making pig noises. The meat of the pig was forbidden food to the Jews, the food that only the ignorant and the gentiles would eat. Class, culture and religion have ways of ostracizing certain people, and making them a caricature rather than fully human. To be a pig is to be less than human.
Jesus has calmed a storm and now is faced with two men who are possessed by demons. He sends the demons into the pigs who hurl themselves off the cliffs, to which the locals respond by telling Jesus to get out of town. Doesn't seem like one of the most successful moments of his ministry. Early on in his ministry a very human Jesus was profoundly influenced by his race, culture and class. He has some overcoming to do in his walk, embodying God in human form. We all have challenges in our walk to follow Jesus. And I find some comfort knowing that even Jesus began with the ignorance and privilege of his community, and had to rely on God to help him see everyone as fully human, everyone as the beloved of God.
Today I ask God to help me to set aside judgement, so that I can see all people as beloved. I pray that God will open my eyes to the beauty in each face encountered, the need in each expression and the sacredness in all of humanity today.