January 19, 2011

normal people

What is normal?

It is a question that I end up dealing with a lot in my vocation. People just want to be normal. They want the cancer to go away. They want their husband to be alive again. They want the church to do what the church has always done. They want their pension to be vested and paid. They just want life to be normal, and when it isn't, they can't wait for life to get back to normal.

So, then, what is normal?

Commentators seem to be convinced that Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John were normal. Four guys who made a living fishing on the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee - just normal, everyday folk.

What made them so normal? They had to work for a living? They had to pay taxes and tolls and other sundry fees that made now sense? They went to Synagogue with some regularity? They gave away some of their money to charities that aligned with their philosophies and carried good rating from the Better Business Bureau? They were married? They had kids? What made them so normal?

I think we get a key into their potent normalcy in the story about Jesus' move from Nazareth to Capernaum. Essentially, Jesus moved from Daphne to Stockton (or Millersville to Pequea for my Lankie friends, there isn't a good NOVA analogy, but maybe Haymarket to Luray comes close). He's gone from rural to the boonies, and Matthew says it is because the prophet Isaiah said, "those who have sat in darkness have seen a great light."

Maybe what makes Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John so normal is that they too have sat in darkness. I know I have. I bet you have too. Maybe the sophisticates of Daphne, Stockton, Haymarket and Nazareth won't admit it, but the work-a-day people of Capernaum, Stockton, Pequea and Luray know what its like to have a crop fail, a fish kill, or a flash flood. The closer one lives to the earth, the more likely one is, I think, to admit that sometimes the world is very,very dark. Even though we all know it because we've all experienced it.

Are you normal? Well I guess it depends. Have you ever had to sit in darkness? If so, I'm guessing you are normal. If you haven't, well then you are probably still normal, you're just a liar. The good news for all of us normal folks is that a light is shining, and the darkness will not overcome it.

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