For June 6, 2021 Prayer for Peace and Peace Moment with introduction
Each week we hear a Peace Moment in addition to the prayer for peace. Hopefully all will be blessed with these devotional thoughts.
This week’s Peace Moment is by Claudia Schooler.
The third chapter of Mark starts by recounting how in his travels Jesus healed even on the Sabbath and how unclean spirits fled before him. His fame was growing, and perhaps this was unknown to his family. In verses 19-21 (NRSV) we hear –
…Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”
Jesus was not out of his mind. But imagine a scenario where one of your family members is away for a period of time. When they come back there is something different. Neighbors and friends ask you, “What’s wrong with them? Are they mentally ill?” In your love for your relative you might try to restrain their behavior or protect or even hide them. Sadly, because of stigma, stereotypes and misunderstanding, the mentally ill are often shunned. Out of fear and uncertainty we often turn away from these suffering souls in their time of greatest need.
My family is no stranger to mental illness. Several have wrestled with serious challenges. During the last few years of my father’s life he struggled with both mental and physical infirmities. One Christmas I flew out West to visit him in the facility where he lived. One afternoon most of the residents were gathered around tables for a little gift-opening party. Not far from my father and me sat a man named Charles. Every couple of minutes Charles would shout a random word and then begin to converse incoherently with himself. I turned to him and spoke. “Hi Charles. What was that?” After a couple such interchanges my father said, “Don’t bother talking to him. He’s crazy.” I just patted my dad’s hand. When Charles shouted out again I said, “Hi Charles, what was that?” It was only for a second or two, but when I looked at Charles and spoke, and he looked back at me, there was a glimmer of lucidity. After that brief afternoon encounter I never saw Charles again. But I hope somehow he felt his worth.
Jesus did not shun the mentally ill, the demon possessed. Face to face he connected with the inner person, never focusing only on the illness that tormented them. While interactions with the mentally unstable sometimes require caution and professional intervention, many times the only thing we really fear is our own discomfort. A listening ear, a loving glance, a kind word carry more hope and peace than you may ever know.
Please join me in our prayer for peace.
It is in your loving relationship with humanity and all creation as expressed by Jesus that we see the model of peace. Help us see that love creates relationships rather than conflicts among people and creation. Help us be agents of such love in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.