February 4, 2019

Gospel MK 5:1-20
Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes.
When he got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs,
and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains,
but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed,
and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides
he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before him,
crying out in a loud voice,
“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, do not torment me!”
(He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”)
He asked him, “What is your name?”
He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.”
And he pleaded earnestly with him
not to drive them away from that territory.
Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.
And they pleaded with him,
“Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.”
And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned.
The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town
and throughout the countryside.
And people came out to see what had happened.
As they approached Jesus,
they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.
And they were seized with fear.
Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened
to the possessed man and to the swine.
Then they began to beg him to leave their district.
As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead,
“Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”
Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.
Reflection:
When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him……Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before him…
Seeing Jesus, the man with the “unclean spirit” went immediately of his own free will to meet Him.
Having approached Jesus, the possessed man then says,
“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, do not torment me!”
Upon reflection I realize that, held fast by our weaknesses, we too may run to Jesus. But, many times when He comes upon us, we are not always ready to let go of our sins.
And they pleaded with him,
“Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.”
And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned.
Clearly, the two thousand swine were destroyed, and we are left to wonder what became of the demons.
Strangely, the people of the district who owned the swine asked Jesus to leave after seeing what happened to their herd. It would appear they were more concerned about Jesus being a threat to their livelihood than about having a “legion” of demons living in their midst.
As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead,
“Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”
Again, this story differs from other accounts when Jesus has performed a miracle and he is cautioning people not to tell others what He had done for them.
Perhaps the Lord knew in order for the man to keep his spirit free from the demons re-entering him he must fill the empty space created by their departure with a new passion: telling and retelling the story of the compassion and power of Jesus Christ.
Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis (the surrounding towns) what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.
“A heart filled with the love of God leaves no room for evil to reside.”
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