I choose to reflect on today’s Gospel Reading of the demons, swineherds, and Christ’s healing power. I, atypically, spent time reading several Commentaries on this Gospel passage to help me better understand it. For 46 years (since beginning my nursing education), I have had a difficult time understanding this passage. For the past half century I am one of most people who no longer associate mentally ill individuals with demons. Further, in our society and time, it is quite difficult to comprehend demons and/or demons being transferred from humans to animals. Scholars discuss the above points. In addition, they note that this passage was probably a very entertaining story – and, very graphic. For the Jewish Christians who heard the story, there was the added humor and irony that it was pigs that became demonized. And, there may have been layered meanings in Mark’s choice of the name of the demons, i.e., Legion, as the Jewish population was being ruled by the Romans and their soldier legions.
I resonate with two reflections from this passage. First, at some level in our lives, each of us has obstacles we are attempting to overcome; we might call them demons. And, we recognize the importance of calling on Christ to help us remove those obstacles. Second, I think about the last four lines, i.e., that we are each called to proclaim the healing of Christ and Christ’s messages. This man was called to proclaim in the Decapolis – not his usual home environment. We are called to proclaim Christ’s messages. For me, recently, it is in the sharing of conversation, prayers, books, and prayer symbols of the Church mystic, Julian of Norwich with a work colleague/friend. It is in the sharing of Mass and potluck dinners with guests at a newly formed Catholic Worker House in Omaha. It is in some teaching strategies I use in my college teaching.
Are there obstacles in your life that you’re asking for Christ’s help? Are there ways you are proclaiming Christ’s message?
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