"Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you."
I used to read past the stories about Jesus driving out demons. This story, especially because of the strange and humorous part about Jesus sending the demons into the swine who run off of the cliff, didn't attract me.
Perhaps it comes with more years of life; maybe it is experience in ministry; but mostly it is with humbling experiences of my own unfreedoms that I have come to appreciate Jesus' power over the forces of evil. There are times when it is very clear that this or that particular situation, or an effort to come together in ministry, or simply my own weak desires are plagued with "demons" that have clear "characteristics."
The Holy Spirit is always trying to gather us, offer us deeper graces that lead to greater love, greater generosity, greater sacrifice and greater reconciliation and unity. The evil one really doesn't want us to work together toward the coming of the Kingdom.of God. It is clear that this spirit is involved when our best efforts are foiled by selfish divisions. This spirit creates many forces, desires, compulsions that lead to greater and greater injustice, and the fruit of injustice, war. This spirit gives life to a culture of death. And, as all of us know, this spirit will take our family interactions in very bad directions, spiced with harsh words and punishing sarcasm or fighting.
That's why this gospel is so full of hope for us. In this story, a self-destructive demon held this fellow so that no one could restrain or subdue him. Jesus dialogues with the unclean spirits, just as he does with our bad spirits. In the end, they know they are powerless before him and they actually beg to be driven out. The evil in this world, the divisions in families and groups, the deep temptations within us abhor the presence of Jesus. When Jesus is present, they are powerless.
Lord, Jesus, give us confidence in your power to bring healing and peace into our hearts, our families, our communities and our world. Drive out whatever is divisive, harsh, selfish and deadly within us and among us. Fill us with your own Holy Spirit. And then, send us to tell our family and friends about your power to bring freedom and peace among us. We place our trust in you now and forever. Amen.
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