They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain;for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
(A couple’s perspective)
There is a lot that could be discussed in this gospel passage! But I feel that the most important angle comes at the end when Jesus advocates for the formerly possessed man to reunite with his family. Isn’t it so difficult to come back to our families after a period of affliction, especially if it brought us into a place where we felt judged?
Years ago, I had a great Jesuit spiritual director named Ken who helped me experience this in my own life when I felt distanced from “The Church” at large. Ken reminded me, “Jesus heals us, but he also knows how much we need to be a part of the community. It’s why He always sends the ‘new’ person back to the leaders of the Church . . . to feel a part of the family again.” I have never forgotten this encouragement and have been particularly heartened that our newly elected Pope Francis appears to have “welcome” and “connection” at the fore of his letters and statements.
A number of years ago I connected with a second cousin via an online family tree website. She was living across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario, with her partner. We may have met when I was a child (her father was my grandfather’s brother) but I could not recall. We agreed to get together for dinner to discuss the research she had being doing on our family tree. During our meal she discussed how she was marginalized by her family because she is a lesbian. This saddened me but I was grateful to her for sharing her struggles with me.
Sometimes our family can hurt us the most. My cousin’s parents had both passed away, so there was no chance of reconciliation with them in this life. But there is a chance that my cousin can continue to reconnect with other family members, especially those in my generation and younger, so that the rupture suffered in her familial relationships can slowly be healed.
Do you seek reunification with some member of your family? Can Jesus facilitate that for you?
—Carrie and David Nantais live in the city of Detroit with their two sons, Liam (almost 4 years) and Theo (5 ½ months). They are both at the University of Detroit Mercy—David as Director of University Ministry and Carrie as a PhD student in Clinical Psychology. They have been married for 5 ½ years. http://www.udmercy.edu/ministry/index.htm
This feast of St. Blase marks the traditional day for blessing of throats. We can join in that prayer of blessing: Through the intercession of St. Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from sickness of the throat and from every other illness, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.