Jan 27 - "We are Fine"

Readings: Psalm 139  & Luke 8:26-39

In the hit TV series Friends, Season 10, episode 2 (for those of you who will go home and Netflix this later), the character who plays Ross walks into the apartment to find his friend Joey and the former love of his life Rachel in a heated kiss. After some blubbering on of Joey and Rachel, Ross stands stunned for a few moments, then goes on to say “I’m Fine. I’m fine. I’m FIIIINE.” He’s clearly not fine!

But you know, we do that too – try and convince each other and the world, that we are always fine. No matter personal challenges we may be facing, no matter how the hurtful things others say to us, no matter how we may be struggling to make sense of the world, our economy, our climate change, our horrendous weather...How are you doing? I’m fine. I’m good. How are you? The pretense can be exhausting, especially when too often, we are anything but fine.

The man in our story today was long past pretending everything was fine. Everyone knew he was not well. He was ostracized from the community, living in the outskirts – the tombs or the caves, plagued by his demons. To his family, he was probably considered dead. He wore no clothes, he beat himself with rocks. The authorities had tried to chain him up, but he broke the chains. When Jesus approached, the man was drawn to him, greeting Jesus right away. However, the man or the demons, because when you are drowning in disease, the distinction is blurred – wants to know what Jesus wants with them. One of the first persons to recognize and name Jesus as the Son of God, the demons that ruled this man were reluctant to have their power overcome. Jesus asks for their name – to which the reply is Legion, meaning many.

For those lost in addiction, depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder or other forms of mental illness, hearing another call the disease by name can be simultaneously liberating and infuriating. Naming aloud our whatever we struggle with that keeps us from experiencing wholeness is painful. It’s painful because it means coming to terms with the reality that we are not as fine as we pretend to be. And, once we know it and stop pretending, then maybe God will also know and others might find out too. But naming it also is the beginning of healing and finding a course of action.