What Jesus did in the story depicted in today’s Gospel passage from Mark would have been a great relief to them and also would have astounded them. And while we, today, might not fully understand what was going on inside the man, one thing seems perfectly clear, he certainly was being tormented by something or someone or some kind of illness that was outside their everyday experience. And that “something” they believed couldn’t possibly be from God. No, it had to be the opposite. And they felt powerless over it.
And so when the man is healed at Jesus’ command, simply by the incredible power of his words . . . “Quiet! Come out of him!”, they were completely amazed and couldn’t wait to tell others what they saw. This Jesus, this man from Nazareth, had a power over nature and over evil that they had never seen before. Whoever he was, he certainly was no ordinary man. This man could handle even the really big stuff, the scary stuff, the greatest sort of evil. Evil seemed to be a pretty powerful force in their world, but this man was more powerful.
Wouldn’t that be great if we could do the same, if we could somehow have so much power that we could drive all the really bad stuff and bad people from our world? Imagine a world with no murder and no war and no shootings and no dictators and no abusers and no drug pushers and no armed robbers. Wouldn’t that world look so much different from the world we are currently living in? I’m not so sure.
Now don’t get me wrong. A world without those things would be a better world, no doubt about it. And if any of those things have impacted any of your lives, causing you pain and sorrow, my heart goes out to you. Honestly. None of us should have to suffer at the hands of others, especially in such cruel ways. It’s why we as a society enact laws and punishments, and why we as a nation struggle, imperfectly at times, to protect ourselves and our friends around the world from similar horrors.
Yes, dealing with this “big stuff” matters. And we should continue striving to create a world free from these things. But would that world truly look a lot different from the current one we are living in? Would it? What I’m getting at is this. I think it’s kind of a mistake to presume that most of the pain and suffering in this world is caused by all these big, terrible, dramatic, obvious things. And if we just stop the really “big stuff”, life will be great. Eden will return.
What we tend to forget is what would remain, all the “little stuff” we don’t necessarily think causes that much harm. Think about it. Some relationships would still suffer, damaged by thoughtlessness, and lies, and indifference, and infidelity.
Some people in the workplace would still be finding ways to defraud customers or fix the books or beat the system. Some students would still cheat on tests and bully others and test their parents’ patience.
In other words, if we think of the sum of all the seemingly “small” things we do day-in and day-out, multiplied across billions of people around the world, we might start to understand that it’s not just the “big stuff” that makes the world less than it can be, it’s also the immense pile of relatively small hurts, small failings, small sins that are doing most of the damage, causing most of the pain. These are the things that touch absolutely everyone. And if they didn’t exist, or even if they were greatly reduced, the world would be completely transformed. We might not even recognize it. What difference will we make this week?
Have a blessed week everyone!