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
There is something endearing to me about pigs. They are truly smelly and noisy when grown but the little pigs have a tender and sweet character. And pigs are some of the more intelligent animals in the kingdom. Very few children missed the story of Charlotte's Web and the moving relationship between the spider and the pig named Wilbur. Our daughter Ariel, when she was young, always said she wanted to be a ballerina and a pig farmer. Pigs can be incorrigible and messy but somehow they tug our heartstrings none the less.
Jesus encounters two men who are possessed. They have been the scourge of the area and folks are terrified to go anywhere near them. They are tormented and fearsome and everyone wants them to be gone. When Jesus cures them and rids them of their demons, he agrees to send the demons into the pigs, which as we know leads to disaster for the pigs. The people come out to Jesus to ask him to leave. Their livelihood is gone, or at least a herd is demolished and two healed men are no replacement. In hard economic times, we have seen all too clearly that the cash crops can take precedence over human life and we chose wealth over health every time. God's healing, real healing means a change of emphasis, a new life where compassion and humility are at the core. Real healing means greed and vanity go out the door and in come love, forgiveness and tenderness.
Today I ask God to help me trust in prayer and to help me be willing to take on answered prayers challenges. We need help from the source, from our Creator, to live in the abundance we ask for with humility and care for others. We want answers but we also need to be ready to change and embrace the people of God, no matter how different they are. May we all have the courage of our prayers today and open wide our hearts to the answers that are breaking forth. May we see the new, not as threats, but as true gifts, new people who will change our world for the better.