3rd Sunday in Lent
March 7, 2021
Truth-telling is healing. Telling our own stories is healing. But caution should be entertained when we tell other people’s stories. Our story in Matthew 9:27-33 this morning, is a case in point. If it is not told well, it can cause harm to those who are sight and hearing impaired.
As preacher I must not perpetuate the idea that deafness or blindness is a result of sin or “darkness.” The story has a liberating message not just for those with such a disability, but, any disability.
We need to take notice of the influence the three men have, who are the central characters in today’s story. Two are blind and the third is mute. In many of Jesus’ healing’s the one seeking healing is healed and then becomes a follower of Jesus. Mathew’s telling of this story reverses that scenario.
The two blind men follow Jesus before they were healed. They knew Jesus through means other than sight. It isn’t until after they are healed that they ignored Jesus’ request to not tell their story of healing to anyone. Wilson in his book Healing in the Gospel of Matthew, writes: “A certain irony presents itself, then, insofar as the two men can be understood to signify discipleship more effectively before they are healed than after they are healed” (pg. 259).
Imagine their joy at being healed! How could they keep quiet. I imagine that they wanted to tell everyone they saw about this miracle of healing. In fact part of their healing may have been bound up with this truth telling. Their truth was larger than this one occurrence. Matthew’s healing stories are representative of a greater truth. A truth in which God, through Jesus, has come to heal us all, to lift us all out of the shadows and into the light. Our stories, our lives, are tangled in the web of God’s love. Our truth and our stories liberate us and connect us to one another.
This week we are talking about mental health. Some of us have experienced pain and brokenness related to others telling stories “about us” that create an image that is not really true. This may have left us with the inability to see who we truly are in the eyes of God—a beloved child of God. Part of healing our minds and souls involves reclaiming our sense of who we are by being able to see and hear with fresh insight and then proclaiming redemptive stories of divine worth about ourselves. That is what healing our minds and souls requires.
A word or two about healing. Healing doesn’t mean being perfect. It means recognizing who we are and whose we are and believing in our heart of hearts that we are worthy of God’s love and sharing our trip up the mountain that might just help someone else see a light in their darkness.
Marcia McFee, the genius behind the Worship Design Studio, writes: “The people who address mental health have found new freedom when they shared their stories; and it is so important to change the stigma around mental illness so more people will seek help and embrace the truth of what they are experiencing so they can find relief.” There are people suffering some form of mental illness as a result of this pandemic and civil unrest in our country. Those who already suffer from anxiety and/or depression are feeling the burden of mental distress at a much higher level than ever before. Pastors are experiencing a high rate of depression and are seeking early retirement.
Last week we read about the boldness of the centurion asking Jesus for help. That boldness can be seen as an inspiration to be bold in voicing our experience as the church promises to be a compassionate, non-judgmental, and safe space in their response. I leave you with this thought provoking question: What can we do to become that kind of community?
In the greatest of hope!