February 3, 2014

The Gospel Today

Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

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.

Reflection (Sem. Ramon Jamora, Jr.)

“Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” – Mark 5, 19

      I believe that the Gospel speaks of a mission. When Jesus sent the man to preach the goodness of the Lord to his family, Jesus was actually commissioning him for a mission. The man has now become a witness to Jesus’ divine authority over unclean and evil spirits, and at the same time, to Jesus’ power to liberate a person from sins, since evil possession is associated with sinning during their time. But I see something more to the preaching and becoming a witness. I feel that Jesus is leading us to the basic, important, and central area of our mission – our family. Jesus could have allowed the man to go with them, even to just be with them, but he did not. Instead, Jesus explicitly wanted him to go back to his family to tell them of what the Lord has done for him out of the Lord’s compassion.

     I am quite certain that there was a time when we had an experience of a “possession” but not by any evil spirit, but perhaps, by a seemingly impossible problem to solve or even get away from. And, after a deep prayer and communion with God, we were consoled, comforted, and a sudden solution to the problem came.

    Just like the liberated man in the Gospel, who really wanted to be with Jesus after being liberated, maybe we too had that strong desire of being with God, of giving the self to service, and may be even committing to a certain devotion. But I believe that the Gospel is teaching us something simpler. And, that is to go back to our liberating experiences by revisiting our personal encounters with Jesus. These experiences were the times when we were with God, receiving his mercy and great love for us.

     Jesus does not reject our wanting to respond to His mercy and love. But He invites us to begin the simple task of apostleship, of being sent, to our own families. Jesus does not expect us to do great and big things for us to show our gratitude to Him. I believe that Jesus is telling us, that the best witness to our experience of liberation from almost anything negative in us is our family. If we can bring our family closer to God, then perhaps Jesus may call us to a greater mission, to love and to serve others.

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