When we hear about the man with the unclean spirit, we're told that neither chains nor shackles could hold him, and certainly, no man could restrain him either. At times, we're tempted to think of Jesus as merely a gentle soul. But, in recent gospel readings from Mark, we've seen the authority and power of Jesus defeat evil without trepidation or fear.
The Gerasenes territory where today's gospel takes place, even in the daytime, was considered a place to avoid. It was full of caves often used to bury the dead. And, it was thought to be home to demons.
As soon as Jesus step foot into this land, demonic forces challenge him. They are in full and violent control of the man who approaches Jesus. And, we hear about the man's suffering in vivid detail, his cries and self-inflicted bruises. And, yet up until this moment, no one can help him.
But, catching sight of Jesus from a distance, the man ran and prostrated himself before Jesus?
I sometimes think we and others in our families and circle of friends are afraid to run to Jesus when we struggle with sin and have fallen. Of course, there is the embarrassment, but at times, I think we forget the power of Jesus to make us clean through the Sacrament of Confession or even at times through an exorcism. Time and time again, Jesus shows us that he has the authority and the power to call out unclean spirits and forgive sins.
Jesus defeats the devil and can set us free from any hold on our souls. And, through His priesthood, beginning with the Apostles, has called men to act in his person to forgive sin and liberate all who come to Him.
If you know someone in your family, or perhaps it's you that needs to hear this gospel, share it with them. Explain that Jesus is the one we want to bring with us when we need to be set free. Tell them of Jesus' mercy for the man who suffered so much and that no one could help.
Lastly, did you notice how differently the townspeople reacted compared to the man set free? The town's people were afraid and wanted Jesus to leave, but the man set free not only was clothed and in his right mind, but he also begged Jesus to stay. Once he experienced the healing power of Jesus, like any of us, that man knew how much he needed Jesus in his life.
May God bless you and your families this holy day!
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About Father David Marcham
Reverend David S. Marcham is the Vice Postulator for the Cause of Venerable Patrick Peyton, and Director of the Father Peyton Guild, whose members pray for Father Peyton’s beatification and spread his message of the importance of Family Prayer. Prior to becoming a seminarian, Father David was a physical therapist and clinical instructor, serving hospital inpatients and outpatients throughout the greater Boston area for eleven years. In 1998 he heard the call to priesthood and was ordained in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2005. Father David grew up in Quincy, MA, and has fond memories of playing soccer, tennis and running track. You’re never without a friend when Father David is around, as he welcomes everyone into his circle with a smile on his face!