RCL Year C, Proper 7
Isaiah 65:1-9, Psalm 22:18-27, Galatians 3:23-29, Saint Luke 8:26-39

Today is a good Sunday to regain our bearings, and we shall do that. The “hot” season, Advent through Trinity Sunday, is over, and we begin today the long, “cool,” green season that extends until the Last Sunday after Pentecost, this year November 24, when we celebrate Christ the King of everything that is.

During this long, “cool,” green season, we follow the ministry of Jesus through one of the Gospels: this year it is Luke, and we follow Jesus as he teaches, heals, and proclaims the Kingdom of God. And in this long, “cool,” green season, the Old Testament Lesson and the Gospel are thematically connected. The two are connected today by pork or pigs, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and let’s begin with what we know.

We know from our own experience that when you have something to offer that is better or stronger or smarter, sometimes people do not want it. Sometimes people prefer what they know to what they do not know even if what they do not know is better than what they know.

That precisely is the position of God and Isaiah in the Old Testament Lesson. The Hebrew people in the first lesson have lost out politically and militarily to the Assyrians. They have moved into Assyrian lands, and they have taken up Assyrian ways: they are sacrificing in gardens (not the Temple in Jerusalem), they are burning incense on bricks to gods not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are even eating pork in a broth of “abominable things.”[1] They have the gall to say to Isaiah, “Keep to yourself,…for I am too holy for you.”[2] Isaiah wants to remind them of the true God and the true God’s better way. But they will not have it. They have their dysfunction, and they like it, thank you very much.

In the Gospel, Jesus cures a man possessed by demons. Jesus saves him from demons, and the man becomes a disciple. He sits at Jesus’ feet, clothed and in his right mind. The man has accepted Jesus’ better way, but the people are scared, the Gospel says.[3] The new way is the scary way. Jesus directed the demons into a large herd of swine, and the swineherds lose their investment and their stock-in-trade. That’s really scary. But the choice confronting the swineherds and the other people is stark: they can believe and follow the One who cures a man and puts him in his right mind, or they can be scared.

And something like that choice confronts us. We can follow Jesus, asking him to be able to see his world and his people with his eyes, or we can keep the same-old same-old. We can cling to our sins and our dysfunction, how familiar they are!

But the choice is ours. Which will it be?

[1] Isaiah 65:4.

[2] Isaiah 65:5.

[3] Saint Luke 8:35.