“The world says: "You have needs -- satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don't hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more." This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Gospel text (Mc 5,1-20): Jesus and his disciples arrived on the other side of the lake in the region of the Gerasenes. No sooner did Jesus leave the boat than He was met by a man with evil spirits who had come from the tombs. He lived among the tombs and no one could restrain him, even with a chain. He had often been bound with fetters and chains but he would pull the chains apart and smash the fetters, and no one had the strength to control him. Night and day he stayed among the tombs on the hillsides, and was continually screaming and beating himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell at his feet and cried with a loud voice, «What do you want with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? For God's sake I beg you, do not torment me». He said this because Jesus had commanded, «Come out of the man, evil spirit». And when Jesus asked him, «What is your name?», he replied, «Legion is my name, for we are many». And all of them kept begging Jesus not to send them out of that region. Now, a great herd of pigs was feeding on the hillside, and the evil spirits begged him, «Send us to the pigs and let us go into them». So Jesus let them go. The evil spirits came out of the man and went into the pigs, and immediately the herd rushed down the cliff and all were drowned in the lake. The herdsmen fled and reported this in the town and in the countryside, so all the people came to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the man freed of the evil spirits sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the same man who had been possessed by the legion. They were afraid. And when those who had seen it told what had happened to the man and to the pigs, the people begged Jesus to leave their neighborhood. When Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed begged to stay with him. Jesus would not let him and said, «Go home to your people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you». So he went throughout the country of Decapolis telling everyone how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were astonished.
The herdsmen in today’s gospel reading were more concerned with a herd of pigs then with saving a deranged man. Still today, people can give possessions primacy over people, allowing people to be disturbed, even possessed, as long as their possessions are left undisturbed. Pope Francis wrote about this in his recent apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “How can it be that it is not a news item,” he asks, “when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”
Jesus always placed persons before anything else, even before the law and the powerful people of his time. Too often, we only think of ourselves and of what we “believe” will bring us some happiness, despite the fact that selfishness never has brought any happiness to anyone. As the Brazilian Bishop Dom Helder Cámara would say: «Selfishness is the deepest root of all unhappiness. Your own and that of the whole world»