I stood in the grocery line and wondered why the cashier was ignoring the customer…
When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes,
two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him.
They were so savage that no one could travel by that road.
They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God?
Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”
Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding.
The demons pleaded with him,
“If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.”
And he said to them, “Go then!”
They came out and entered the swine,
and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea
where they drowned.
The swineherds ran away,
and when they came to the town they reported everything,
including what had happened to the demoniacs.
Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus,
and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.
– Matthew 8:28-34
I had heard this gospel story countless times previously, and yet, I was surprised by the intensity of my reaction upon hearing it proclaimed in the Mass readings recently. As my tears flowed, I heard myself say, “Oh Lord, what have we done!? You reveal Your power and we beg You to leave us?! You give us a glimpse of Your sovereignty over evil and we reject You?!”
My exterior reaction gave away my interior anguish, as I was convicted in that moment of the ways that I have personally rejected Jesus. I’ve sent Him away at times, choosing to remain in the false security of my comfort zone. I became acutely aware of the lines I’d drawn around my life, marking out “the way it is.”
By defining, even unconsciously, “the way it is,” we are also defining “the way it is not.” These boundary lines determine what is in the realm of believable or acceptable to me as well as what is to be considered unbelievable or unacceptable to me, however hidden from my awareness this distinction may be.
When Jesus shows up to shower me with Mercy, I reject Him because what I’ve done or what’s been done to me has been defined (by me or a significant other) as unforgiveable.
When God reminds me that He has a plan for my life to prosper me and provide hope (ref Jeremiah 29:11), I scoff, “yeah, well I ruined those plans; not after all the mistakes and poor choices I’ve made.”
When He knocks quietly on the door of my heart saying, Open to me my love (ref The Song of Songs 5:2), I assume I’ve heard wrongly because “intimacy” and “unconditional love” are not qualities I allow within my boundary lines.
Embracing the Mystery
Later that day, after the morning of spontaneous tears, I meditated upon the gospel scene (Matthew 8:28-34) in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and sensed our Lord revealing another perspective: they begged him to leave, not only perhaps as an act of rejection, but also because they were aware that a Sovereign Power was in their midst, and they were afraid. They had seen – witnessed with their own eyes and ears – the mighty power of the Lord, His complete sovereignty over evil. They trembled.
Oh, had they not rushed to cast aside He whom they did not understand! You and I are blessed with two thousand and twenty-one years of Sacred writings, Church teaching and wisdom from the Saints – let us not make the same unfortunate mistake. There will always be much about our Lord that does not fit neatly into our predefined categories or “rules” about life. May we pray for the courage to step out of our self-created boundary lines and embrace the mystery of what it means to live as His disciples. Jesus, help us embrace the mystery of You!
Thank You Lord that You never stop knocking on the door of our hearts! Wake us Lord, awaken our hearts and our minds to the reality of You. Increase our belief in, and submission to, Your sovereignty over every aspect of our lives. Help us not to fear Your ways, or reject Your call to holiness. May we instead, see life with You as a great adventure, full of mystery, purpose and divine intimacy. Keep our hearts afire Lord, aflame with desire for You and Your ways. In Your Name, Amen.
“Behold! I am standing at the door knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you…” Revelation 3:20