January 30, 2017
Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
The Gospel Today
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. Mark Ian V. Abu)
Miserable was the condition of the possessed man in the Gospel. What unimaginable horror it was! He might be despised by his own family because of his uncontrollable strength and so he sought shelter among the dead in tombs. Not only this, he might had suffered from rejection of the community who separated and alienated him. He lived alone in the darkness of the tombs. He was totally suffering from physical, emotional and spiritual aspects and completely imprisoned of the many challenges and sufferings in life. Yet, he found consolation and freedom from Jesus. What an amazing liberation from the mercy of God! Jesus restored him to his sanity and gave him opportunity and freedom to be one with the community once more. And upon receiving healing from Jesus, he expressed his desire to follow Him. Yet Jesus advised him to go, instead, to his family and community to announce to and share with them the great blessing he received. It was there that the formerly possessed man became a disciple of Jesus; a proclaimer of the Kingdom of God.
In our world today, there are many things that cause us suffering and anxiety. The daily problems that we need to encounter and face, the challenges in our own state of life, the relational responsibilities and commitment that we need to fulfill: all of these are giving great anxiety and pains to us. These things cause us to be possessed at times. The unexpected, and even expected, events in our lives are also our moments of weeping and mourning. All the agonies that we need to bear due to the expectations of the world are temptations to become hopeless. But, here is Jesus giving us freedom and healing, proclaiming to us that time will come when all our sadness will turn into joy, all our pains will be wiped by laughter and the darkness around us will be covered by the great light that will radiate from Him.
Let us always remember and put into heart and mind that following and imitating the ways of Jesus are not easy. It entails suffering, challenges and sadness. But, like what was received by the possessed man the promise of the grace of freedom, peace, joy and happiness is there. This joy should make us eager proclaimers of the goodness of God and the coming of His Kingdom.