Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

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Lectionary: 323

Gospel Mk 5:1-20

In the healing of the demon at Gerasenes, the scene portrayed is dramatic and forbidding. I wonder though what is the scene that is told without the drama? Jesus travels across the water to reach this town which is clearly a gentile region. Evidence of this is that the demon says “we are Legion”, which is a reference to the Romans. At the end the demon is cast into a heard of swine, an animal that would not be in a Jewish territory.The frightening part of this story, is the fright that this area would bring to Jews. It was an area containing tombs rendering them unclean. It contained a powerful occupying people with different cultural values, also frightening. It seems much of the horror of this land would be what the ancient Jews would have perceived.  To them this was a fearful place. To cure this possessed person, what did Jesus have to do? It seems the first step was that he had to travel to them, or reach out to them. He also had to meet the demon on its terms and confront it. Ancient Jewish people had a lot to offer to these people of Gerasenes. Their culture was based on a relationship  with the “Most High God” and their laws and society were formed through their dialogue with that God. These ancient Jews though had the tendency to keep separate from these aliens. To them their culture was unclean, foreign, and incompatible with theirs. While they lived with them and were occupied by them, their objective was to be separate from them. Ideally they would have preferred to overthrow them in battle an evict them from their lands, but sadly their army was out numbered. Jesus plan though was different. His was not to evict the peoples, but instead only to evict their sins. He traveled to them, and preached to them, and in that preaching he drove out the demons. Those demons said they were legion, and Jesus met those legions with his own. His were his disciples and Apostles.  To drive out the demons, it was not by the sword but by the word of the Gospel. I wonder if this story was one of the inspirations for Saint Paul ? He too traveled across the waters to drive out legions of demons as the Apostle to the Gentiles.

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