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Mark 5:1-20

The Word of God

They came to the other side of the lake, 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 lake, and were drowned in the lake.

The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighbourhood. 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.

Mark 5:1-20
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • • This was an unusual event in that swine do not have much importance for the Jewish people. The core of the story is about the power of evil and that of Jesus being greater. Attention is to be drawn to Jesus and what he did to set the demoniac free. Lord, help us to focus on the essentials, noting your power and compassion that it may set us free to counteract the evil we encounter.
    • • There were different reactions to Jesus and what he did. The demoniac who had been cured wanted to stay with Jesus, but Jesus sent him home with the mission of proclaiming what he had done for him. Lord, what you did caused amazement. Help us to keep focused on you amid the varied opinions and distractions of life, for it is in you that we will find true freedom.
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    • There is drama in this exorcism. It pits the demon, who torments the possessed man, against the calm power of Jesus. The demon recognises Jesus’ power and authority, and obeys his command to go out of the man.
    • Lord, when I fear the forces of evil, in others or in myself, I remember that you took on the demons and defeated them. In you I have a Saviour against whom the devil is powerless.
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    • Perhaps we think that following Jesus means spending a lot of time “with Jesus' ' in religious activities or committing to religious life. For most of us, our calling and our following of Jesus takes place right where we are.
    • It is there that we need to share with others our experience of knowing and being loved by Jesus. Let us go home and tell others what Jesus means in our lives and pray, that like the people in the Gospel, they may be amazed.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Martin Luther is credited with the saying:” One man plus God is always in a majority”. The villagers “were afraid” so they begged Jesus to leave their neighborhood. Surely this must be one of the saddest requests ever made! However, one of the villagers saw things differently. So he received the commission by Jesus to tell everyone what had been done to him. You and I have the same calling.
    • This need not entail standing up in a pulpit or erecting a soap-box for myself in the main square of my home town. When I live out cheerfully my calling as a child of God in the ordinary course of my life it soon becomes evident to others.
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    • Do you ever experience yourself being tormented by guilt from the past, by inability to do what you wish to do, or by fear of the future? Do you feel sometimes that you are living in a tomb, in a lifeless situation? If so, you can identify with the unfortunate demoniac. You may feel Jesus is at a distance, but run to him and beg him to liberate you. He wants you to be free and will heal you. Then you too can ‘go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you’.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Mark describes the first exorcism performed by Jesus in pagan territory. It is a strange and baffling story. The possessed man is the most violent we meet in the gospel, and is in the grip of, not just one, but a legion of unclean spirits. Yet this “legion” recognises who Jesus is and even “bows down before him”. Jesus expels the spirits from the man but allows them to enter a nearby herd of swine. These then rush headlong into the Sea of Galilee and are drowned. The locals, perhaps not surprisingly, ask Jesus to leave their territory.
    • How might a person pray with this gospel? Remember to keep your attention on Jesus. As he exercises his power over evil spirits he is revealing who he really is. That is the main point of the story. And if you find yourself uncomprehending or disturbed by some of the details, bring your reactions to Jesus and ask him to enlighten you. He is the source, not only of power, but of compassion.
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    • This scene portrays for us a very powerful example of Jesus setting someone free from the demons that possessed him. The story becomes more relevant when we acknowledge that we all have demons that possess us which affect our relationship with Jesus.
    • John of the Cross gives us the example of the small bird that cannot fly because it is anchored to the ground by the thinnest of threads. What liberates us more than anything is to consider how intensely attractive the love of Jesus can become if we take time to notice and savour it.
    • In your time of prayer with Jesus you might go through the loves we have noticed in him and the attractiveness of one of these loves in particular. For example, we have noticed how he accepts, appreciates, cares for, acknowledges us in a personal way. We have also seen how passionate, profound and joyful his love is. Choose one of these loves and dwell with its attractiveness or beauty for some time and then tell Jesus how his beauty affects you.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • There is drama in this exorcism. It pits the demon, who torments the possessed man, against the calm power of Jesus. The demon recognises Jesus’ power and authority, and obeys his command to go out of the man.
    • Lord, when I fear the forces of evil, in others or in myself, I remember that you took on the demons and defeated them. In you I have a Saviour against whom the devil is powerless.
    • The healed man had asked to go with Jesus but, at Jesus’ request, he stays in his own place to announce the gospel. Our call to work with Jesus and our partnership with him is on Jesus’ initiative. As disciples we wait to be told what to do and where to minister. In prayer we may sense his call to take part with him in his work. The daily call will be to announce in word and in our way of life the gospel of Jesus, in the places and among people who are part of our ordinary life. Our call, like his, is to announce the Lord among our friends and to share with people close to us how the Lord Jesus is at work in our lives.