Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.
‘The demons that won’t let me go!’
The Gospel resonates in everything and in everyone. The past few days this has seemed especially so.
In the July issue of Mojo magazine, American singer-
The author goes on to say: “Belafonte is using his humanity to bear witness, to illuminate and magnify, to do what all artists are called to do, I believe: to place his beating heart next to another’s. To walk and sing. To speak and rally, fight, win, lose and wonder. To survive. And then to continue.” It’s an image of an evangelist – and I can’t help but think of the person set free in today’s reading from Luke – head held high – set free to bear witness to the evangel, to the good news of freedom’s unfolding in the very place he is well known as possessed, as homeless and powerless, as weak and highly vulnerable – as one living “among the tombs”. At 83, Belafonte jokes about retiring to lead a quiet life. And yet? “It’s the demons that won’t let me go,” he says. For this evangelist at least, the demons have become objects of humour.
Inspired to seek out recordings by Harry Belafonte – edified by the account of his work and life – I opened the weekend paper. Amid good news of paid parental leave – good news for families – I came across accounts of Family First Senator Steve Fielding’s recent political stunts. Fielding was compelled, contrary to briefings on paid parental leave, to call attention to so-
I read on. Tens of thousands of mentally ill Indonesians bear an unimaginable torment, left to battle the demons of severe psychiatric disorders while chained and shackled for years on end. The Gospel resonance is striking. The photographs are shocking. Today’s Gospel heightens our sensitivity to the demonic – to forces that diminish and crush us – that it might lift our spirits to walk and sing – to speak and rally, fight, win, lose and wonder. To survive. And then to continue.
I think the last time we heard this text together one of us suffered a seizure here in the church. I want to say that this Gospel is not about epilepsy – it’s not amenable to the kind of reductive analysis that would see it chained to pre-
Is Luke – Is Jesus? – trying to get us to name our demons and acknowledge their destructive power? Perhaps, as Brendan Byrne suggests, the parts of ourselves, our character or our experience of life (individually and in community), that most readily attract the freeing power of God are those where we are most inclined to say to the Saviour: “What do you want with me, Jesus, Only Begotten of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” Is Jesus trying to get us to name our demons and to acknowledge their destructive power? Consumerism, vanity, resentment, imperialism, racism, heterosexism, rivalry, addiction, xenophobia, chauvinism, jingoism, apathy …
What would it mean for us to be – alongside Harry Belafonte and every warm-
May we be sensitive to God’s voice in the sound of sheer silence, and then let us complete the homily together. “So the one who had been made whole went off and proclaimed throughout the region what Jesus had accomplished.” It’s an image of an evangelist – someone who has known oppression, torment, the pity and fear of others – and then release, freedom, wholeness. Jesus trusts him with a ministry. Jesus simply trusts a changed life to change lives without worrying about much else (Art Barrett). What might we have to offer? You’re invited to place a “letter” on the green cloth on the floor. The letter or word you are called to speak and to bear. Perhaps we speak a word – made up of many letters – together? A mystical word? May we be sensitive to God’s voice in the sound of sheer silence, and then let us complete the homily together …