“But Jesus refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.’”
In one of the most interesting stories in the Gospels, Jesus manages to heal a man who has been cast out of his community. The strange twist of the story, according to the Gospel, is that the spirits who come from the man who is healed are sent into a pack of swine who then go barreling off of a cliff into the sea. Some Biblical scholars believe that this account with the swine symbolizes early Judeo-Christian feelings toward the occupying Roman forces. Regardless, the account of the swine might distract us from something greater that is going on in this story.
Jesus heals this man who has “often been restrained with shackles,” and was impossible to subdue. Legion is presumably placed in this isolated location because of his sickness. In those days, illness — physical or mental — was associated with sinfulness. As a result, people with illness were cast out of the community for being impure. Legion was suffering physically and mentally from his disease, but also spiritually from being isolated and cast out of the community.
When Jesus heals him, he is free to go back to his community. Jesus explicitly tells him to return to his home and to his friends. Legion was healed physically. A central part of his healing is related to his ability to return home to a place where he belongs. Jesus shows us that healing is wholistic; it involves our entire being. We can be physically well, but still need healing in other aspects of our lives. When Jesus heals, he restores us to shalom, or wholeness.
The season of Lent offers us an opportunity to consider the places we need to be healed in order to find wholeness again. Where do you need healing? What does wholeness mean in your life?
God, you are the creator of wholeness. We thirst for wholeness. We yearn to be healed. Reveal to us the places where we are in need for healing. We pray that you will come into those places and make us whole again. Amen