Today’s Gospel account follows Jesus successfully showing his power over the tumultuous storm at sea. Jesus and his disciples have entered the Gentile territory of the Gerasenes. As soon as they get out of the boat a man possessed by an unclean spirit rushes up to him. He himself was in a worse state than the storm. He called himself Legion as he was possessed by many demons. He had been living in the tombs, away from society, family, and friends, some of whom had made multiple attempts to restrain him, cure him, bring him back to his right mind, but to no avail. The encounter with Jesus ultimately brought about the result of this man “sitting there clothed and in his right mind” (Mk 5:15). Jesus was able to liberate this man from his desperate state. If you have not done so, I recommend reading the full account (Mk 5:1-20).
Many scoff at the healing power and miracles of Jesus, and they certainly would also discount demon possession. Though very rare, there are still cases today. A strict approach of scientism that only accepts the empirical, only that which can be measured by the five senses, discounts not only the divinity of Jesus and God, but any talk of a spiritual realm. This is unfortunate, because it is limiting approach in our understanding of the fullness of creation. We ourselves are both physical and spiritual, and to seek to understand both, helps us to better understand ourselves and the world around us.
Too many today are in the same need of experiencing the liberating power of Jesus. Just as chaotic and tumultuous, especially among our youth, are those who are consumed and imprisoned by a vice grip of addiction. Family members and friends reach out desperately to help, to provide aid, and find themselves in the same situation as those who sought to care for this man who had been living in the tombs. Somehow this man caught “sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him” (Mk 5:6). There must have been some ember at the core of who he was that could still move and bring him to Jesus. This growing epidemic could benefit from a unified approach of the best that science, psychology, and prayer can offer.
May we pray for all those suffering, bound, and shackled by the wide range of addictions that plague too many today. That even in the deepest darkness of their internal imprisonment, they may see the light of Jesus, encounter him and give their life to him. May we pray also for the families, friends, and those close to the ones struggling with these agonizing torments of addiction that they may also draw on the strength of Jesus, be guided to find the proper aid, support, facility, and/or treatment programs for themselves and their loved ones who are suffering.
May we hold on to the hope that Jesus is stronger than any evil that seeks to bind anyone, and we claim his victory for all those who are suffering from any form of addiction. May Jesus lead them to freedom, to their right mind, and like the Gerasene man who was healed in today’s gospel, may they experience the fullness of healing whereby they may go forth to help others to find the same path to liberation.
Photo: Sunset a few weeks back
Link for the Mass readings for Monday, January 29, 2018: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012918.cfm