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 that Jesus had stilled. 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 demonic possession. 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 the reality of God but any talk of a spiritual realm. This is unfortunate because this is a limited approach to understanding the fullness of creation. We ourselves are both physical and spiritual. A healthy embrace and experience of both will help us to better appreciate and understand the world around us.
Too many today are in the same need of experiencing the liberating power of Jesus as the Gerasene. Just as chaotic and tumultuous, especially among too many of our youth, are those who are consumed and imprisoned by the 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 himself to Jesus.
We need to join in prayer and seek the best means to provide support and aid for all those suffering, bound, and shackled by the wide range of addictions that plague too many today. This growing epidemic damages individuals, families, and friends and could benefit from a unified approach of the best that science, psychology, prayer, and spiritual direction can offer. Each of us is ensnared at some level and seek to be free to feel the harmony and peace we were created for.
Jesus is the light that can reach into even the deepest darkness of our internal imprisonment. Yet we must choose, as did the Gerasene demoniac to surrender to Jesus. May we resist the temptation to flee from him, and instead run into his open arms. Resting in the grip of his embrace, we will come to know that we are not alone in our suffering, that our deepest anguish, sins, and wounds can be healed.
Jesus is stronger than any evil that seeks to bind and divide any of us, and we claim victory in his name and by the power of his word for all those who are suffering from any form of possession and/or addiction. May Jesus lead all of us to freedom, to our right minds, and like the Gerasene man who was healed in today’s Gospel account, experience the fullness of his healing whereby we too may go forth to help others to find the same path to atonement, redemption, liberation, restoration, and reconciliation.