I got to enjoy a homiletic holiday today; that task of preaching fell to others. Still… the inclination to muse about “what would I have said” lingers. And things always muse in context. Here in Tampa this weekend the Superbowl takes a back sit to the Gasparilla Pirate Fest. It is a whole week of things “pirate” as the city is invaded by a scurvy, crusty band of brigands if there ever was one. Now you know the local context.
Back to the gospel.
I easily image Jesus’ encounter with man possessed of an unclean spirit, playing out this way: Jesus reaches out to than man and the unclean spirit pulls him back in recoil. Spewing out of the man’s mouth is a throaty, salty, “Arrrghh, matey…. What have ye to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have ye come to destroy us? I knows who you be—the Holy One of God! ….. arrrghh.” As I said, its Gasparilla Week.
Once the unclean spirit is dispatched, I imagine Jesus turning to any one of us and asking, “So…how about you? What have you to do with me?” Hopefully we are not too flummoxed and can reply, “You are my Lord and Savior.” Then we grasp the extended hand of Jesus who draws us ever closer. And in the same movement Jesus spins us around, leans over to speak softly into our ear as He points to all other people gathered there – people we don’t know, we don’t like, not one of us, don’t seem our type, needy people, bothersome people, burdened people, suffering people, dispirited people, lonely people, pirate people. As He points to them, Jesus says: “And what have they to do with me? What have you to do with them? Will you extend your hand to them? Will you draw them closer to me?”
That’s the type of question that cuts to the quick of it all…. arrrghh.