Daily Reflection
January 31st, 2000
by
Joan Howard
University College
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
2 Samuel 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13
Psalms 3:2-7
Mark 5:1-20

As is often the case, the "good news" of todayís readings is packaged in what may appear to be extraneous information.  It always takes me a certain amount of unwrapping to get to the gift!  However there were, for me, three hints:  "Loyalty," mentioned in the first sentence of the first reading, "unclean spirits" and "family" mentioned in the second reading.  As a mother I am always on the lookout for the mention of family in scripture.

The first and foremost message of God to the Israelites and to us is that He is the only God.  If I truly believe this and am loyal and living accordingly, then the other laws and commandments fall into place and I find my life in harmony.  The second reading is a vivid description of a life, my life, when in chaos.  The man is completely controlled by the "unclean spirit."  The gentle Jesus disembarks  from the boat and calmly heals the man.  The "unclean spirits" are cast into a herd of 2,000 swine which then go "rushing down the bluff into the lake."  Picture that!  The contrast is startling.  Jesus is calm, serene and gentle.  The unclean, sinful man is, as we would say, out of control, and the swine stampede off the bluff.  The power and control of sin versus the gentle strength of the Lord.

What is it in my life that draws my loyalty away from Jesus?  What I found to be true is that what tends to distract me are the blessings in my life - my health, my focus on ME, or money, or my things, or my job, or my studies, or being the best, or needy.  Sometimes it is even my vocation, my children or husband.  I have learned to recognize that even my husband and children can at times take on exaggerated importance relevant to my relationship to the Father.  In praying these passages I was overcome with the image of my own "unclean spirits" as overtaking the fish in an aquarium.  I imagined the placid environment of an aquarium churning with my "unclean spirits"!

Family is central to the manís healing.  Jesus tells him "go home to your family."  I think we are being reminded that it is only within our families, our work and neighborhood and faith communities that we live out our cure.  Family is all those whom we love and who have loved us.  Family is those we touch daily at home, work, and play.  Family is the newcomer on our block, the poor and the sick of our community.

And the good news for me is that Jesus who loved the unclean man and cured him, loves me - and will cure me as well.
 

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jbhoward@creighton.edu
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