CHANGE AND DISRUPTION – Second Sunday after Pentecost—Proper 7, Year C; Body and Blood of Christ, Year C (RC)

June 19, 2022

Revised Common Lectionary
1 Kings 19:1-4 (5-7) 8-15a or Isaiah 65:1-9
Psalm 42 and 43 or Psalm 22:19-28
Galatians 3:23-29
Luke 8:26-39

Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Genesis 14:18-20
Psalm 110:1, 2, 3-4 (4b)
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Luke 9:11b-17

When someone recovers from an illness, deals with an addiction, emerges from depression, gets out of prison, or finds a job after a long period of unemployment, it’s an occasion for rejoicing, right? These events can be pathways to new life and growth not only for the individual, but also for those who love them and for the entire community.

Yet change—even recovery—can bring disruption. Look what happened in today’s Gospel reading. Jesus stepped out of familiar surroundings to enter Gentile territory and encountered a man who was possessed not by a single demon, but by multiple spirits who identified themselves as “Legion.” They had caused him great harm and driven him into isolation, to the very fringes of society.

When Jesus drives out the demons, they enter a herd of swine who run headlong to their death in the sea. Demons also meet their destruction in water, so Jesus not only saves the man from their destructive power but makes sure that they will harm no one else—except, of course, the swine.

The townspeople were alarmed by Jesus’ deed and ask him to leave town. They saw not a man who had been set free nor the elimination of powerful demons—no, they saw drowned pigs. The healing work of Jesus had economic consequences in the loss of livestock and social consequences in the reintegration of this man that everyone had come to avoid for all these years. Yes, even positive change brings disruption.

When one person or one group of persons makes a major change, it sets in motion a process that affects that person’s entire social system. Relationships may be redefined, roles may be altered, and familiar patterns can be disrupted. Never mind that these relationships, roles, and patterns may have been dysfunctional. Change can still be threatening and unwelcome.

Today’s Gospel story challenges us to let go of the swine and the demons as we support those who are embracing change. Yes, we will be transformed too—and that’s exactly what Jesus has in mind for his followers as they welcome the kindom of God.

A Hymn for Today: “In the Presence of Your People”

Psalm 22 is familiar to Christians as the prayer of Jesus on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (22:1) After a lengthy lament, the psalmist eventually turns to declare the praises of God to others. In today’s Gospel reading, this charge was given by Jesus to the man who had been delivered from demons. The man had wanted to follow, but Jesus instead sent him on a mission to his own people: “”Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you” (Lk 8:39).

This paraphrase of the concluding portion of Psalm 22 could easily provide the words for such a mission. The first stanza and the tune were created in 1977 by a song writer in New Zealand. This version incorporates two stanzas added in 1986 by a different writer, drawing more deeply on Psalm 22. Each stanza incorporates a double refrain that occurs in the middle and at the end.

In the presence of your people
I will praise your name,
for you alone are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
Let us celebrate your goodness
and your steadfast love;
may your name be exalted
here on earth and in heaven above.

All who love you sing your praises
and proclaim your power,
for you alone are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
You have not ignored our suffering
but have heard our cry;
may your name be exalted
here on earth and in heaven above.

All who seek your rule will praise you
and be satisfied;
for you alone are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
All the peoples of the nations
will bow down to you;
may your name be exalted
here on earth and in heaven above.

Text: Stanza 1, Brent Sinclair Chambers, b. 1948; stanzas 2-3, Bert Polman, 1945-2013. © Broadman Press, admin. Music Services. Used by permission under OneLicense #A-729857


Image Credit: Jesus Heals the Man Possessed, anonymous, Mulungwishi United Methodist Church, Mulungwishi, Congo

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.

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