They came to the other side of the sea – the region of the Gerasenes;
happenstance or planning
offers an encounter
with very otherly anothers
otherwise quite avoidable
in either case a choice
offers itself about response
to accent smell fashion sense
since we’re used to our own
might beauty shine through
offering a point of contact
in an otherwise alien land
bearing all our fear of wilderness
it is here where we’re away
a gift of travel offers
its mirror to our usual soul
opportunity for guest hospitality
With various texts and spellings, it is difficult to pin the setting down to a general area. Pompey had taken this area in 63 BCE and it is a place of Roman strength. Retired army veterans have land given them. This is also a land that was an early adopter of Jesus’ Way sending participants to early councils such as those moved to Seleucia and Chalcedon.
This difficulty of location opens options of seeing this as a midrash on Exodus 23:28. Levine/Brettler note the Hebrew word “gerash” (expel) is used in some accounts of nations being driven out of their lands that the Israelites might take their place. Given the Roman presence, what follows is a deeply political commentary.
In addition to reading backward, we are able to compare the external occupation of the land by the Romans with a corresponding internal occupation of economic peonage to satisfy the privileges of a privileged class.
Myers asks his readers to:
Imagine our nation as a single living organism, with many parts. This organism bears the characteristics of the demon-possessed man (mightily self-destructive, out of control, isolated from community, living among the tombs, howling).
Myers continues by asking people to note the headlines all around them and to ask:
Are we as a people possessed? Who is crying out for deliverance? When the liberating power of God approaches, do they ‘beg the power of liberation to leave their neighborhood’ (5:17)?
How clear are you about present internal/external occupations?