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Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go then!”
They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned. The swineherds ran away, and when they came to the town they reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.
Opening Prayer: Lord, help me to put away my distractions and focus on this encounter with you today, trusting that you will give me all of the light and inspiration I need to hear and absorb your message for me.
- Subject to God: The devils who possessed two men hiding out in the tombs dared to approach Jesus with an unusual request. Wanting to avoid their inevitable torment they asked Jesus if they could be sent into the swine instead of being sent straight to Hell. Even though they were “savage” and probably terrifying to behold, Jesus, seemingly unperturbed, granted their request, “Go then.” With two simple words, Jesus showed us his power over the devil, saying “Go then,” as he showed his power over nature when he calmed the storm, saying “Be still,” and his power to restore Lazarus to life, saying, “Lazarus arise.” The Son of God is almighty! Truly, “The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him” (John 3:35).
- Everyone Came: On the testimony of the swineherds, the whole town came out to meet Jesus, but instead of welcoming him they asked him to leave their district. In another gospel scene, the whole town of Samaria came to believe in Jesus because of the testimony of the women at the well. Personal testimony can be very persuasive. While the woman at the well evangelized her town, the swineherds apparently dissuaded their townsfolk from believing in Jesus. When we encounter Jesus in our prayer, the sacraments, or life circumstances, what kind of testimony do we give?
- Seeing versus Believing: When the Gerasenes saw Jesus, they asked him to leave. It seemed as if they were more afraid of Jesus than of the demoniacs. We know that not everyone who met Jesus during his life followed him. Nor does everyone who encounters Christ today follow him. Let us never take for granted our desire to follow Jesus! The desire we have in our hearts is itself a gift of God. “For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work” (Philippians 2:13).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, this Gospel passage reminds me that the battle between good and evil rages even today. Although I don’t encounter people who are possessed, I know that I am strongly tempted sometimes to reject you. Please send your Holy Spirit to rekindle my fervor for you so that I can resist the pull of evil and bring glory to your name.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will spend a couple of minutes reflecting with gratitude on my spiritual blessings, including the desire I have to follow you.
For Further Reflection: Read Psalm 16, especially these verses:
I bless the Lord who counsels me;
even at night my heart exhorts me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
with him at my right hand, I shall never be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure,
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
nor let your devout one see the pit.
You will show me the path to life,
abounding joy in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
Written by Maribeth Harper.