Of Human Bonds, and Bondage

Reflection on 2nd Sunday after the Day of Pentecost, Proper 4
(Click here for biblical texts)

If ever we needed proof that healing
happens communally ask Luke’s Roman
centurion. Dramatis personae include
the soldier and his cohorts, the Jewish leaders
he turns to for help to contact Jesus,
the slave near death and other regimental slaves,
Jesus and disciples, and most likely a host
of others who heard of the plea for help
and its magnificent outcome. In our today,
the news would have blanketed internet,
Dr. Oz probably jealous,
and most likely Ellen’s next guest would be
the centurion, probably without his slave
or lover or whatever he is—we are not able
to imagine people owning their love objects,
even as bodies are sold every day, vulnerable
young and older women, young men, enslaved
for the sexual pleasure of others—because
this story is about one kind of healing from
sickness and almost death, but not being
liberated from inhuman bondage.

Roman centurion
shalominthestorm.blogspot.com

But can we imagine a new ending—
when the centurion/owner sees his great love
healed, in the pink of health; in gratitude
he orders a party at which he pronounces to all the world
not only his love but also that he purchased
an end to bondage—larger story where love not only
heals but also frees both parties
from entanglement in a system that values
people as spoils of war, conquered peoples
as machines to be chained for what they can
produce, including, in some cases, sexual pleasure.
Pleasure, did I say pleasure?  It may be one thing
to pay for pleasure from a willing seller but it is,
isn’t it, different not to pay but to own body
if not soul of another to receive the divine gift
of intimate lovemaking as if one’s command
can create bonding of such power, grace, and love.

Yes, this is an old story without this happy ending
and still it tells of faith profound, true, real,
strong enough to cause Jesus’ amazement
but even more to clear away all bars
to healing and then to welcome holy power
that heals wherever it is allowed to land. Was it words
from Jesus, not recorded here, or was it faith
from the centurion/lover that healed?
Or Jesus’ recognition of that faith?
We shall never know for sure, but this we do know:
faith can move mountains and does, but sometimes
the mountain must want to be moved
or at least its many admirers know it must
be moved—God has the power to do all,
but counts on us to lend our shoulders, hearts,
minds, feet, and hands in the struggle.

Whose healing, whose liberation, have we
made more possible, more real, today?

 

About this poem . . .This beautiful story of love and healing leaves a number of unanswered questions, including just how was the healing accomplished? And like many stories from a vastly different age, things we abhor today are unremarked and unchanged. That does not leave us unaccountable for who we are and what we do today; instead, it reminds us that holy testimony of old is still in need of new holy interpretation today.

 

©Robin Gorsline 2016 faithfulpoetics.net
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

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