February 4, 2019. Monday, 4th Week in Ordinary Time
Reflection (Sem. Gerald M. Moscardon)
After college graduation, I immediately started working in a fast-moving consumer goods company and somehow my career was laid down for me for the next two years. My goal was to climb the corporate ladder the fastest way possible because I was seeking a certain freedom – to be financially free. I wanted to be successful in my career, probably be successful too in my business ventures. There is nothing bad in wanting all of these but what was wrong was my motivation and how I handled bits of success. I wanted to be free in order to buy or get what I want. I wanted to be free in order to savor or lavish in the fruits of my success. My gauge for freedom was titles, possessions, pleasure. All of these were just forms of “false freedoms”, false securities, another form of enslavement. I wanted freedom and I worked hard for it just to be enslaved by the world in the end. But my quest for freedom does not end here.
In the Gospel, Jesus healed a man possessed by unclean spirits – legion, for they were many. This man has been residing in the tombs. No shackles or chains can contain him, yet he is possessed and bound by a for more restraining “shackle”. In a way, my quest for freedom led me to “break” the chains of financial enslavement only to be possessed and bound by a far more enslaving shackle, the shackle of materialism. They overpowered me and in sin, I was like residing in the tombs so close to “death”. But Jesus confronted me and made me see my possessions. I am then faced with a choice. Would I make him stay like the possessed man who gained true freedom after being healed by Jesus or would I drive him away like the people of the town who seized with fear because they were contented with their “enslavement”? We can only obtain true freedom in Christ but only if we let Him. We have to let go of our false securities and gain lasting security in Jesus, Son of the Most High God.
The Gospel Today – Mark 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.