Pentecost +2 - Year C
Everyone speaks out of their own experience. Here a soldier speaks about chain-of-command. This is important in a military and military personnel. Preparation for fighting and fighting require loss of self into some larger whole promised to be wiser than any individual part. Given such famous lines as, “Half a league, half a league, onward”, and “We had to destroy the village to save it”, the promise falls apart and leaves only loss and a revenge-seeded next war.
Speaking out of one’s own experience can be a source of transformation of current faith to a next faith (no, faith is not universal or eternal — like habit, it is a tool we employ that is sometimes helpful and also carries a likely potential to block us from better responses). This is a source of the Pentecostal experience of speaking with folks who don’t have the same language, same experience, as we do. We don’t debate differing experiences, we affirm our own and affirm others. This affirmation opens doors for both to grow. Of course, not everyone will go through an open door just because it is open.
Take away: listen for what people already know and value. This is a way to suggest a resolution for a current blockage into greater wonder. Ask a teacher to write a lesson plan for resolving their dilemma, ask a plumber to design a more effective water flow to relieve their blockage, ask a scientist to design an experiment on themselves or their lab regarding the human dynamics involved in physical reality, ask anyone to use their current faith system as a lens to more closely view their currently unresolvable issue. The out is probably in plain sight, just unattended to.
[Do note that this scripture portion does not indicate that Jesus did a distanced healing. Jesus simply spoke of a soldier’s faith being large. It is our own need for congruence that has us jump to a conclusion that the return to health of the soldier’s slave was Jesus’ doing. An artificial chapter break gets in our way here. This is a conclusion to a story coming out of a complaint of Jesus, “If you are going to call me “Teacher”, why don’t you practice what I teach” and his own subsequent story of building a house on a firm foundation. Jesus is frustrated enough to be envious of a chain-of-command. I would have a section break begin with 6:12 and end with 7:17 so John’s disciples could report on Jesus’ organization, teaching, and engagement with a challenge to current limits that would circle back to 6:11 to again raise a question of what to do with Jesus—a question from at-large religious leaders, imprisoned prophets, and ourselves.]