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“There are many of us.”

February 5, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013, Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Hebrews 11:32-40.  By faith they conquered kingdoms. God had foreseen something better for us.

Mark 5:1-20. Unclean spirit, come out of the man!

Gospel Reflection:

“Legion is my name.  There are many of us.”  And so are our sins: there are many.  So are our failings: there are many, also.  At first glance, Mark has us seeing the triumph of the Lord over the demon.  Scholars tell us this is one of the most difficult miracle stories to interpret.  And, like countless before me, I will try, also.

So what is Legion?  Again, scholars suggest it could represent the Aramaic for soldier.  And aren’t we battling constantly with society’s rules, and ourselves.  We hate our weaknesses – and we love our weaknesses.  We reject our sins – and we thrive in our sins.  We as humans, steeped in our original sin, are constantly fighting with ourselves.

So Jesus comes to the Gentile land of the Gerasenes.  And what does he do?  He justifies the man.  Here was a man, so overcome with his sins, so overtaken by Legion, that he could no longer be restrained by any chain; nor did he need to be restrained – he dwelt in the tombs; so dead in his sinfulness was he.  In fact, he was so overcome by the demon that night and day held no difference between tomb and hillside.  And so it is when we are overcome by the poor choices we make in life.  When we reach that bottom, we can see very little except the evil that has overtaken us.

The crowd comes – the Gentiles – and immediately look in horror.  So immersed in their own bad choices, they would rather remain in the tomb than to step out into the light of salvation.  Too bad.  And isn’t it like today’s world.  We know the right answers.  We know what we are supposed to profess, yet it is difficult.  Today’s relativistic society has many convinced that it isn’t a matter of life’s importance that is a problem, but life’s inconveniences that are the problem.  When our elderly and infirmed are enough of a problem, we devise euthanasia as a solution, and in doing so rob them of the dignity of redemptive suffering.  When we no longer want our babies, we stand behind the false nobility of fighting overpopulation.  When medical procedures cost too much, we just need to stop funding them. And on it goes.  These are not surprise stories, we only need to listen to the voices of our Shepherds the Bishops to get the truth.

So we are faced with our choices.  These Gentiles embrace the unclean swine – unclean by 1st century Judea’s standards – and reject the Messiah.  The message is lost.

Or is it?  To this man, the Lord says to go home to his family, and tell them all he has done for him.  Like the Samaritan Woman at the Well, he allows him to get a head start and proclaim the Good News.  This is in stark contrast to the Jews he touches with miracles – the blind, the leprous, the unclean.  It is almost such they need to come to their justification, individually.  Like David, in the Psalm, ‘Once I said in my anguish, “I am cut off from your sight”; Yet you heard the sound of my pleading when I cried out to you.’  If only we could learn from David, and get society to follow instruction as well.  God hears our prayers, even though we don’t ‘see’ his aid readily. And though we don’t see the answer, perhaps we should just follow instructions – and trust in the Lord.

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