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Freed to Share the Good News
Memorial of Saint John Bosco, Priest
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.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, Son of the Most High God, have mercy on us all! Thank you for coming to save us when we have fallen into sin. Help me to know, love, and follow you. Open my heart today to hear and understand your word.
- The Demons Know Him: In Mark’s Gospel, there are very few people who assent to Jesus’ divinity. However, one surprising group knew Jesus’ true identity: the demons. In this passage, Legion acknowledged Jesus as “Son of the Most High God.” They were compelled to obey Jesus’ commands. We could interpret this as a confirmation of Jesus’ divinity, since these spirits–evil as they are–knew his true identity. We can also conclude from this that mere belief in Jesus’ identity is not enough. We must accept that Jesus is the Son of God and we must assent to his Lordship in our lives. We are called to know, love, and follow him.
- Chained in Mortal Sin: The possessed man was practically dead—perhaps even worse than dead. The poor soul was consumed by a host of demons, living in the tombs, and isolated from the community. What a hellish existence! He was in pain, crying out and hurting himself. When he lived among others, had he hurt them too? This is an image of the pain and suffering caused by mortal sin. Mortal sin separates a person from God and others. It shackles and chains a soul. It causes pain and suffering to everyone involved. In short, it causes spiritual death. The Catechism teaches, “If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s Kingdom and the eternal death of Hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God” (CCC 1861). Lord, protect us from mortal sin.
- Encountering and Sharing Mercy: Jesus came to save all people from the captivity of sin. He wants to restore us to life and communion with himself and others. The possessed man had an intimate encounter with God’s mercy. His running to and prostrating himself before Jesus was an act of repentance. After Jesus forgave and freed him from the oppression of the demons, he wanted to follow Jesus. Instead, Jesus told him, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Jesus sent him on a mission to share Christ’s mercy with his loved ones and community. His exile was ended, and his life was restored. Christ directed him to proclaim the Gospel of Christ’s mission of mercy to the Gentiles in the center of Greco-Roman culture, the Decapolis. Imagine the joy and hope in this man’s words and how compelling his story was based on his healing and restoration. Out of the darkest moments of our lives, God’s light shines the brightest. Jesus wants to extend his Divine Mercy to all people. Our own stories of what God has done for us can be powerful instruments of evangelization.
Conversing with Christ: My Jesus, help me to be vulnerable and to share my own story of what you have done for me to the people around me. Help me to not be ashamed of my past, but to share how God has forgiven and absolved even my darkest sins. May I be courageous and joyful in sharing the Good News of salvation and mercy, and so be a light in the darkness, confident in the fact that your light is shining within me, never to be overcome by the powers of sin and death in the world (see John 1:5).
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will consider the wonderful things you have done for me and how they have filled me with joy (see Psalm 126:3), in order to be ready to share with others the cause for my hope in you (see 1 Peter 3:15).
For Further Reflection: Read this short reflection, Mission of Mercy, about how God’s justice is paired with his love, mercy, and faithfulness and the connection between God’s mercy and the new evangelization.
Carey Boyzuck is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.