“And Jesus sternly warned them: ‘See that no one knows about this!’ But they went out and spread the word of him throughout the land.” (Matthew 9:30-31)
Jesus had just restored the sight of two blind men, healed them, and then tells them not to tell anyone. The blind men, in their joy, ignored his instructions to remain silent.
I have been healed so many times, of so many things, and blessed in innumerable ways. And although Jesus never told me not to tell, I have basically kept most of those things to myself.
When people have asked me to share something about my spiritual experiences, my attitude has usually been, “this is my experience; get your own.” I feared sharing my story, feared judgment and skepticism. “Who does she think she is to be so blessed? Isn’t she the Madeline who grew up on the east side of Detroit? What makes her think she is so special that God would bless her so abundantly?”
Years ago, on the first night of a graduate school class on the Mystics, the professor divided us into small groups and told us to share our mystical experiences. The room was completely silent for a few minutes, and I finally broke the silence in my small group. “Ok, I’ll start,” I offered. I then shared a mystical vision I had had a few years earlier. Midway through sharing my mystical vision, I could see eyes widening. I trudged on to finish the vision and then said, “None of you has had that kind of mystical experience, right?” None had, and I felt my oddness. Who has mystical visions?
A few years later, I met a missionary priest who had lived in Central America and witnessed horrible atrocities. Upon returning to the States, he spoke openly about what he had seen. When I heard his story, I asked him how he got the courage to speak out. “God gave me these experiences so that I could tell others what is happening. It is my responsibility to share what I have seen,” he told me. “I don’t feel that responsibility,” I replied. “One day you will,” he predicted.
He was like the blind men in Matthew’s gospel, given new sight and spreading the word. I have been like the third servant in another story in Matthew’s gospel about hidden talents (25:14-30); out of fear, I have buried what God has given me.
During this Advent season, as I prepare to receive the new life promised at Christmas, I pray for the courage to be like the healed blind men and the missionary priest, to spread the word about the abundance of goodness in our world and the many ways God has blessed me.