If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing. ~ Saint Augustine: (354 – 430: was an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy)
Gospel Text: (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.
In today’s gospel God chooses to use an unlikely candidate to show His power and mercy. A possessed wild man that people undoubtedly avoided and probably feared by his community made for an odd choice. My thoughts on the reading is that Christ can choose anyone, no matter how society judges that person, for great things. Going from a maniac to a proclaimer of Jesus left people amazed. We’ve seen many unlikely people called who responded like this over the eons: Mother Theresa, Francis of Assisi, Brother Andre Bessette, Thomas Becket and many others. The commonality between them is they followed Christ’s calling.
This story of redemption and transformation reveals the very purpose of Jesus’ mission: to liberate us from all the symptoms of death and to give our lives new meaning. Our circumstances may not be as dire as that of the Gadarene demoniac, but all of us are in need of healing and restoration. As Pope Francis has said, “Jesus reveals the face of the Father’s mercy.”
The Gospel today is a good reminder for me to trust and not hide when the Lord is calling.