The chain breaker, the change maker- Monday, 4th week in ordinary time- Mark 5: 1-20
Today’s Gospel forms part of three (some look at it as four) miraculous actions that are performed by Jesus. These actions are contained in Mark 4:35-5:43 and reveal Jesus’ power over satan in nature (4: 35-41) possession (5:1-20) disease (5:25-34) and death (5:21-24, 35-43)
Jesus is now in the country of the Gerasenes which was thirty miles south east of the Sea of Galilee. It is here that Jesus encounters a man with an unclean spirit dwelling in the tombs. Tombs were considered to be a favourite dwelling place for demons. In doing so Mark makes a connection between death and demonic possessions.
It is interesting to note that in Mark’s Gospel the demons acknowledge the identity and the power of Jesus (ironically humans don’t); He is the Son of the Most High God. It is His presence that truly torments the demons for it was believed that with the coming of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God a period of disaster would descend on satan and evil powers.
There is an interesting twist to the narrative. Jesus by his words commands the legion of demons to come out of the man and they “beg Him” to find another host in which they can dwell. The idea that demons had to find a dwelling place to live in is common, lest they reach their eternal place of punishment and so they ask to stay in the same area.( Revelations 9:1,20:10)
The presence of the herd of pigs indicates to us that this was most certainly an area not populated by the Jews for the Jews considered swine unclean. It is into this heard that Jesus drives the legion of demons. For many at that time, the Sea, an unfamiliar area was also considered the home of the devil. Most probably, it is for this reason that Jesus walks on the water, trampling over satan’s very sanctuary that was considered home.
What is amusing if not amazing is the reaction of the townsfolk; they ask Jesus to leave their neighbourhood. Perhaps the most simplistic understanding to what should have been an overwhelming response of approval is the fact that the village folk lost their livelihood. Herdsmen were usually a collective for the community flock; this was a loss for the entire village.
The response of the man from whom the demon has been released is just the opposite; he desires to stay with the Lord. It is only those who have experienced the Lord’s mercy who truly seek to be with Him( and perhaps look beyond personal losses). Yet Jesus sends the man away for He desires from those of us who have been saved, to go out and proclaim His mercies.
If you are bound by some chain, like the man possessed in the story or are captive to a tomb ask the Lord to release you from that which binds you.
Fr Warner D’Souza
References from the JBC
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