The story from today’s Gospel, at first glance, feels like a healing story. It has all the elements of a healing story – a character that is sick or dying, a crowd of people following Jesus, Jesus moving from one place to another, a miraculous achievement at the story’s end. It feels like, sounds like, moves like a healing story. And perhaps the absolute best way to understand this particular story from the Gospel according to Luke is as a healing story, but it is not the healing of the centurion’s slave that deserves our greatest attention. The fact that Jesus heals the centurion’s slave because the centurion (not the slave!) deserves it is evident from our first reading of the text. We know that the slave is healed before we get to the end of the story. The real question for us to consider is how does the story that we read in Luke’s account also work to heal us? How does it challenge us to move forward in our lives with a re-membered reality – a reality that is taken apart and put back together again? How does the story challenge our own assumptions about the realities of human life, of human tragedy, of human triumph, of human calling?
At a deeper level of is a story of the ways that boundaries are broken, ignored, transgressed, shattered. It is a story about the courage of two characters doing the unacceptable in order to convey some new truth about the creation in which we live. It is a story about two characters that enter into a faithfulness that will always batter the walls of the accepted in order to achieve the impossible. It is a story that pushes us to grapple with what we understand our call to be as disciples of Jesus Christ, which is also a grappling with who we understand Jesus to be. Today, we are confronted with a story that is begging us to begin tinkering with everything that we know in order that we might begin to hear the whispers of God as they travel across the water of the soul.
Listen – closely, carefully, intentionally. You don’t want to miss those whispers. They carry a profound and life changing meaning. They carry the force required to breech the walls of the impossible; they effortlessly invite a harmony unheard on earth. The susurrations of God echo across the chasm of time and reverberates within the walls of space. They are holy murmurs gently calling, lapping at the edge of the soul, to sing to a new melody, a new dance.
But of course, it is difficult to hear these murmurs of God’s being in the reality of today. The booming bass line of the world beats on booming out a message of true reality. “I’ve have all the answers!”, booms one voice. “Believe me!” it continues. And then, quite as loudly, “I am really what you need! I bring experience to this table!” chimes in another. And yet still there is the loudest voice of them all that says, “Blame that group there, for your tragic downfall!” Add to the cacophony those voices that exclaim, “Protect what you have, lest it be taken! Strengthen the walls, let us never be shaken!” and the voices that extol the virtues of the human economy, the human solutions to everything. Suddenly, it becomes very difficult indeed to hear the whispers of God. Continue reading