From Father Beddingfield: Facing Down Demons
There have been a lot of demons in church over the last few weeks. The Gospel for Sunday, June 25 included the optional verses of Mark 5:1-20, the story of the Gerasene man possessed of demons. In that story Jesus drives the demons out of the man and the demons flee into a herd of pigs. The pigs then run over the side of a mountain and are drowned. Demons appeared again in Wednesday’s Mass reading, but this time from Matthew. In this version of the story there are two people possessed by demons, but again, Jesus casts them out, the demons go into pigs and the pigs again rush straight into the sea. Luke also tells a version of the story that follows the same basic outline. What fascinates me about this story is that whether it takes place in the land of the Gergasenes, the Gadarenes or the Gerasenes, the reaction of the neighborhood is the same. People get angry and they ask Jesus to go away.
With each reading of this story I’ve wondered at the people’s response. Why were they so angry? Didn’t Jesus do them a great kindness by healing one of their own? Weren’t they better off without the offending demons? Isn’t the entire community healthier? And yet, “All the city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood” (Matthew 8:34).
One group that justifiably might have been angry at Jesus would be the owners of the pigs. The pigs were their livelihood, their means of subsistence, their trade, their food. But how many people would have been involved in pig raising? We’re told the whole town wanted Jesus to leave.
Another group that might have been angry would be those people who had simply gotten used to living with demons. The demons were a part of their reality and they had structured their lives in such a way as to dodge the demons rather than face them. Some of the braver souls might have even sought out the demons to befriend them, to engage them, to remain in conversation with them. But the demons were still demons, a fact the demons knew even when the people forgot. When Jesus came into town (and into their lives) speaking truth, exposing duplicity and casting out demons, he made people uncomfortable. He broke the peace.
The final group that might have gotten angry with Jesus might be those who understood that what Jesus began, he would not finish. Perhaps they understood that those who are called to follow Christ are also called to share in the ongoing work of healing and truth-telling and casting out demons. Jesus makes this clear in his charge to the disciples, “Preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.” (Matthew 10:7-8) What Jesus began, we are called to complete.
The alarming truth is that the demons aren’t just tucked away in the scriptures. They are alive and well. If not confronted they destroy relationships, families, and churches. Sometimes demons symbolize addictions or epidemics. But we should not be so naïve as to think that demons do not also become flesh. Sometimes demons walk into our places of work, our schools, our churches and even our cathedrals. Demons tear down and diminish. They feed on fear, they depend on a selective understanding of scripture and history, and they are as comfortable wearing masks as they are wearing miters.
There were some demons over which the disciples were powerless (Matthew 17), and it will be the same for us. We continue to say our prayers, to call upon the power of Christ, and to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in discerning the demons. But let us also begin to take more seriously our own calling as Christ’s disciples: to raise up, to offer healing, to speak the truth, to cleanse and to cast out demons. Let us risk making people uncomfortable. Let us risk breaking the peace. John Beddingfield
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Daniel who is hospitalized, Gloria, Roxanne, Grace, Tony, Michelle, Ray, Isa, Joy, Christine, Danny, Ann, William, John, Laura, Gabriela, Eve, Roy, Deborah, Virginia, Mary, William, Ana, Gilbert, Marion, Jeanne, Joseph, Rick, Thomas, priest and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Fahad, Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, Timothy, Nestor, Freddie, Dennis and Derrick; and for the repose of the soul of MaryAnne;. . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 9: 1991 Blanche Evelyn Preene; July 11: 1981 Pelham St. George Bissell; July 15: 1986 Peter A.J. McGrane, 1989 Allen C. Satterfield, 1989 Robert Fox Davis.
CONFESSIONS . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, July 8, by Father Mead and on Saturday, July 15, by Father Beddingfield.
SUMMER SCHEDULES . . . In July and August the parish office will be open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and on Fridays from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM . . . The Rector will be on vacation from July 6 through July 18.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, Daniel Craig is in Hackensack University Hospital and Gloria Fitzgerald is recuperating at the home of a family member. Please keep them in your prayers . . . Movie Night in July will follow the Said Mass on Friday, June 21 at 7:00 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall. It may be hot, so dress comfortably and join us for food, beverages and fun . . . The Spirituality and Reading group continues with the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The next meeting, on Sunday, July 23, will continue with its discussion of The Cost of Discipleship and will also begin to discuss Letters and Papers from Prison . . . Flowers are needed for the Sundays in July. Please contact the parish office if you wish to give them . . . Attendance Last Sunday 278.
CHILD CARE & SUNDAY SCHOOL . . . Child care is offered from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM each Sunday and during Solemn Masses celebrated during the week. Sunday School is offered October through May from 10:00 AM to 10:45 AM. Please contact Father Mead for more information.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday the morning Masses are played by Mr. Robert McDermitt, associate organist. At the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Lied from Vingt-quatre pièces en style libre, Opus 31/17 by Louis Vierne (1870-1937) and the postlude is Trumpet Voluntary in D by John Stanley (1712-1786). The cantor is Mr. William Eddy, tenor. The music at Communion is The Call (1911) from Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). Robert McCormick
ORGAN RECITAL ON JULY 20 . . . On Thursday, July 20 at 7:30 PM, Robert McCormick will play a recital on Saint Mary’s Aeolian-Skinner organ. This event is presented by the New York City chapter of the American Guild of Organists as part of the chapter’s Pipe Organ Encounters, a week-long event for high school organ students. The recital features works of Bach, Buxtehude, Vierne, Walton and an improvisation on submitted themes. All are invited to attend, and a donation of $10 per person is requested.
HELPING THOSE AFFECTED BY THE FLOODS . . . Episcopal Relief & Development continues to work with the dioceses in the affected regions and continues to monitor the situation in order to respond to various needs. The Diocese of Easton is working with the local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) to make needs assessment of their most affected regions. Shelters have been set up to assist people displaced from their homes throughout the East Coast. In the Dioceses of Albany and Central New York, much of the communities are still under water. The Diocese of Albany has been in contact with the emergency operations center to work on assessing the immediate needs of those community and residents affected. To see the latest or contribute online go to https://www.servicenetwork.com/Olg/ERD/Donate.asp
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THE FALL . . . On Wednesday nights, September 20 through October 18, Father Beddingfield will again offer a course at the Center for Christian Studies. Being Neighborly: Living into a Theology of Mission will struggle with the question of what it looks like for us to be good neighbors—good neighbors in our local community and in our global community. We will look at the history of Christian missions—the good, the bad and the unresolved . . . On Monday, October 2 at 7:00 PM Saint Mary’s will welcome Dr. Pamela Tudor-Craig, who will lecture on Saint Francis: Sermon to the Birds and Hymn to the Sun. Dr. Tudor-Craig, Lady Wedgwood, is a distinguished art history who has written extensively on many subjects. She is particularly known for her BBC series, The Secret Life of Paintings, and the book by the same title . . . On Sunday, October 8 at 1:00 PM The Right Reverend C. Christopher Epting, Deputy for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Episcopal Church, will offer Reflections on the Anglican Communion and Ecumenical Issues. Bishop Epting is a great friend of Saint Mary’s and a frequent celebrant and preacher. Please welcome him as we learn more about his “day job.”
SUNDAY ON SATURDAY NIGHT . . . Don’t forget the weekly Vigil Mass for Sunday each Saturday at 5:20 PM. Evening Prayer is offered at 5:00 PM. The Mass is exactly like the 9:00 AM Sunday morning Said Mass, using the proper readings and liturgy for the Lord’s Day. Especially if you’re going away or want to avoid the heat, remember Saturday nights at Saint Mary’s.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Tuesday Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino, c. 540
Friday Weekday Friday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Mass, 10:00 AM Sung Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass,
5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Said Mass. Childcare from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Monday – Friday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass,
6:00 PM Evening Prayer, 6:20 PM Mass. The 12:10 Mass on Wednesday is sung.
Saturday: 11:30 AM Confessions, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 4:00 PM Confessions, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass