Sermon on Matt 8:28-34; 9:1 ‘Right mindedness’
In todays Gospel, Jesus cures two people who were afflicted with demons. In another version of this story it is only one man. We were told that the demonic spirits begged the Lord to cast them into a herd of pigs feeding nearby – and then afterward that these unfortunate group of animals charged into the water and drowned from madness.
But what is intriguing about this story is what happens afterward – the people witnessing become afraid and run away. They are disturbed not at the miracle but more when they see the demoniac ‘sitting down, clothed and in his right mind.’
In Greek this reads, ”kathimenon, imatizmenon, kai sofronounda.”
Kathimmemon is what one does in the presence of a master, iamatzmenon reflects restoration of honor and protection – recall the story of the prodgical son who was clothed in a new robe when he returned safe and sound. It also alludes to the white robe we receive in Baptism which means resurrection and new life. Sofronounda comes from two words. Sofos meaning wise , and fronima – way of thinking.
So Jesus restored the mind and heart of these two men who had been wounded by the evil which caused their demonic possession and loss of his mind.
The world, dear bothers and sisters is changing. Now more than ever before, our values are being tested. I was intrigued by the comment made by Kaitlin Jenner in an interview. You all might remember Kaitlin by her previous name, Bruce when she was a he… she (or he) said, “I am the new normal.”
Not passing judgment, but one is tempted to ask, what is normal when we can’t be sure what gender we are? In a secular age where were we want to redefine things like marriage and even gender, then we are surely tempted to come close to the borders of insanity in our mind. Indeed one of Satan’s grand objectives is to rid of not just our ‘right-mindedness’ but also our very humanity, which remind him of God
The ‘new normal’ lead the two possessed men to a cemetery, which had become their home until Jesus came by and brought them back to ‘sophronisi’– right mindedness. The truth about our ‘right mindedness’ has nothing to do with what ‘everyone else’ is saying. ‘Everyone else’ is only anxious about the ‘new normal’. But the crazy thing is that there is no new normal. It is an illusion. It doesn’t exist because it changes with the times and therefore can never give us peace.
Our right-mindedness has nothing to do with how many possessions we have, how many health insurance policies we have and certainly how popular we are, Our right mindedness, comes precisely from God – from Jesus Christ.
Now more than ever we need to get back to the teaching and person of Jesus- who is the same ‘yesterday, today and forever’. This is not that Christ represents a conservative view of humanity, but quite literally the opposite. HE describes the fullness of humanity much like the Sun conveys the fullness of created light.
This is why the people in the nearby village were afraid and had asked Him to leave. Content with their limited reality, they were not prepared for the truth of the Son of God to shine in their secularized lives.
The fact they were Jews who were feeding pigs suggests that these people had long left their religious heritage behind them and had settled in for a nice, secular pragmatic existence. And lets not forget that the two sick men had probably come from this community in the first place.
Perhaps we have done the same? Would we be ready to receive the Lord, or would we feel uncomfortable and ask Him to leave? I am When we come to Him faithfully and unashamedly and sit before Him as Lord, He grants us healing.
He bestows upon the light of his reasoning and the clarity of his vision for ourselves and for each other, which is the garment of our Baptism and gives us His everlasting peace. He reflects the truth and perfection of humanity in His authentic Divine and human life. May we all, in these trying times, pray for Sophrosini and the Mind of Christ. Amen.