A father of a teenage girl was describing his daughter in a conversation. “She is pretty normal and balanced, good sense of humor, athletic, sociable. In 99% of her life, she is a typical teenager. But when she misplaces her i-phone – she is like a woman possessed. She becomes frantic, driven, and restless – she just gets crazy until she finds it again and is reconnected to her texts and tweets and voice mails…”
Typical? I suspect there are many teens and college folks and business professionals in the same bag. (show my phone) But maybe it is not just people with cell phones that struggle. I wonder if we all have things that ‘possess’ us. Things that we have grown so attached to, that we cling to them like nothing else.
- Perhaps it is that ‘perfect house’ with a perfect lawn, always spotless and immaculate, never a toy out of place, or clothes on the floor. We get so crazy about that dream that we spend more time cleaning and doing the yard work than we do talking with our spouse.
- Maybe it is a memory that has gripped us – of an event we can’t change, but we wished for a different outcome. Years later, it still possesses us with a sense of shame or failure or ‘if only I had…”
- Perhaps it is even a relationship – we come to depend on this one person to be in our life – and the idea of them not being there makes us frantic and crazy and possessive and unhealthy.
It is disturbingly easy to be possessed. To let our attractions to things and people and status and events control who we are.
It is in that light I heard the gospel reading this weekend. In those ‘marching orders’ that Jesus gives to his disciples, we hear an invitation to freedom don’t we? In commissioning the 72, his desire is that none of those he sends out be possessed by ANYTHING, save the desire to bring in the harvest…
- Take no money sack, no sandals, no traveling bag. – don’t get caught in the possessions game.
- Stay where they welcome you. Eat what they put before you. Don’t get caught in the providence game – wondering where the next meal will come from or where you’ll be living. It will come. Just trust.
- Don’t even get possessed by the desire for success or failure. If people welcome you, stay there and do your work. If they don’t listen, shake the dust (prophetic gesture), give them one last verbal warning, and then move on. Don’t get bent out of shape by the outcome. Just be about the work of the harvest.
Do you see how freeing that kind of life style is? You are not owned by anything or anyone. When you can rejoice only in that “your name is written in heaven” it is not even about the ‘reward’ of heaven. Rather, it is the joy that comes from knowing that you have thrown your lot in completely with Jesus. You become like St. Paul, boasting ONLY of the cross of Jesus Christ.
On this weekend where we celebrate our nation’s Declaration of Independence, and celebrate our freedom as a nation, we are invited around this altar to a different kind of independence. Here we are invited to know, not a freedom from the tyranny of a foreign government, but a freedom from the tyranny of anything that seeks to possess our hearts and lives and loves, save that of our love for our Lord. Here at this altar, we have an opportunity to say to the Lord how much he matters to us. When you receive the Lord in communion, take a moment to pledge anew your love for him. Ask for the grace to see how ‘possessed’ you are, and then beg for the freedom from WHATEVER it is that holds you bound.
Then we’ll all know the freedom our Lord has in store for us, as he sends US out into the mission fields –to proclaim his love to all we meet, and the gather in the rich harvest Jesus tells us is waiting…