Speaking When I’m Not Talking

The Gospel lesson for this coming Sunday (Year B of the LCMS version of the Revised Common Lectionary) is out of the first chapter of Mark, and is Mark’s first description of Jesus teaching and working wonders.  After (or perhaps as He’s concluding) preaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, where the crowd is impressed with the authority of his teaching, Jesus is confronted by someone with an unclean spirit, demanding to know what Jesus is doing and identifying him as God’s appointed servant.  Jesus commands the spirit’s silence and then casts the demon out of the man, freeing the man from this unclean influence.

All of which goes in our modernist and post-modernist ears and likely out the other.  That’s something that is talked about in the Bible, but it doesn’t happen any more, if it even happened then.  Subconsciously as well as consciously our minds too easily reject or ignore and skip over Biblical assertions of the spiritual powers at play in our world.  There isn’t a category it fits into.

Though perhaps the closest category we have today might be psychological disorder.  I thought this was a fascinating article on people who hear voices and some evolving ways of helping people to deal with this phenomenon yet still lead relatively normal lives.  Whatever normal means these days.

Of course, there’s no mention of spirits or acknowledgment that perhaps there really are entities that can speak to us, whether for good or ill.  That doesn’t fit into our neat insistence on ourselves as the sole beginning and end of the issues we struggle with.  Never mind that cultures around the globe and across history and culture testify to the reality of external powers that sometimes act for our favor and sometimes act to harm us.

Not every instance of mental illness is necessarily spiritual in nature, but once again I find it disheartening that so much of the world’s experience and history is reduced to the insistence that everyone must be wrong and there must be an internal issue causing these phenomenon which ultimately are not real beyond the individual subjective experience of them.  Medication and therapy and talking back may be helpful, but ultimately, whether a purely psychological issue or a spiritual matter, we have the hope and confidence that these issues will ultimately dealt with, that we can experience release from them through the same man who cast out the demon in Mark 1 – as well as many others – 2000 years ago.  My heart goes out to those who suffer from these voices, and I can only pray that they encounter the Good News that their voices can one day – perhaps sooner, perhaps later, be silenced, and they can have peace.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s