February 1, 2021 – Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/020121.cfm)
Today’s Gospel story presents us two kinds of response towards the presence of Jesus. The first was with the man who had an unclean spirit and second was with the people who approached Jesus after the healing of the man.
Let us see a quick look into each kind of response and discover God’s presence today.
First was with the man who had an unclean spirit. This man had been dwelling among the tombs, was very strong and self-destructive. Jesus did not look for him but it was the man with unclean spirit who initiated to met Jesus. But why? The unclean spirit in him knew very much that it could not hide from God. However, what was interesting here was the conversation between the two.
The man with unclean spirit revealed to Jesus that there were many evil spirits dwelling in the man, thus, called Legion. Legion is not actually a name but only refers to the number of evil spirits dwelling in the man. This is why the man seemed to be very strong that no chain could restrain him. He must have been pushed away by the people in his community because of his sickness and because of his destructive behavior. There among the tombs, the evil spirits could only do harm to him.
Moreover, such encounter with Jesus revealed how helpless the evil spirits against Jesus. They were terrified in his presence. They knew Jesus very well and even named him to take control over Jesus. In their fear, they tried to intimidate Jesus by revealing that there were many evil spirits in the man. However, Jesus seemed not to be disturbed by this intimidation by the evil spirits. Jesus knew the nature and the agenda of these evil spirits. They desired to bring destruction, suffering, pain and death.
Nevertheless, though they were many but they could not kill the man because of the image of God in every man and woman. This was the reason why they “begged” Jesus to allow them to transfer to a herd of swine. Indeed, the evil spirits brought destruction and death to the herd by drowning at sea.
And the man? He was healed and freed from the slavery of sin and evil. The man returned in his right mind, regained his dignity and claimed himself, loved and forgiven by God. Such change and transformation in him drew him more towards the Lord. The man realized the great presence of God and so he expressed to follow Jesus. However, there was another turning point here. Jesus did not allow him to follow him but instead, the man was commanded to go home to his family and to announce to the people his story of God finding him and him reclaiming himself. Certainly, the man went off and proclaimed how God manifested the grace of forgiveness and life in the Decapolis, meaning, ten cities.
The second response towards the presence of Jesus was with the people in the territory of Gerasenes. When the people saw and witnessed themselves that the man they knew who was possessed with an unclean spirit regained himself and was in his right mind, “they were seized with fear.” This is how the Gospel of Mark described their reaction.
What kind of fear was that then? Were they not supposed to be happy, instead of being afraid? They were really seized with fear because they realized how the power of Jesus could bring significant changes in their life. That change in their life was that something which made them terrified. The people were already comfortable at how they lived their life. It was acceptable to them that a self-destructive man was there living among the tombs. It was comfortable to them to make everything as usual. It was beneficial to them to remain in that state of life.
The people did not want change and transformation in their life. They did not want to confront the evils in their community and in their lives because they have become so used to them and because it will cost them so much. Changing one’s life according to God’s desire will require them to let go of what was old, what was usual, what was comfortable and what was only beneficial for them. Thus, they cannot accept change. They cannot accept forgiveness and new life with Jesus.
This was the reason why they begged Jesus to leave their district. Jesus did leave because the Lord does not impose his power to us. Though God is almighty but God does not threaten us.
Yet, though the people pushed Jesus away from their life, God would not also surrender. God remains hopeful and always sees opportunities and ways to bring us back to Him. That is why, Jesus sent the healed and forgiven man back to his family to preach and to tell his story. That changed and transformed man was to bring people back to God. This tells us that when God is pushed away, God makes a way. Hinaut pa.