January 30, 2017
by Amy Badura-Brack
Creighton University's Psychology Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 323

Hebrews 11:32-40
Ps 31:20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Mark 5:1-20

Praying Ordinary Time

When I agreed to join this ministry, I knew that writing these reflections would challenge for me because I am accustomed to scientific writing in my daily work as a psychologist.  I also secretly hoped that I would not be assigned today’s Gospel, so I suppose it is no coincidence that I was ultimately tasked with this passage.  I thought of asking for a new assignment, but I decided to struggle with this reflection.  The reason this reading is particularly difficult for me, is that the symptoms displayed by the man possessed by Legion are symptoms that would be interpreted as a psychiatric illness by my colleagues today.  So often when science and faith examine the same issue, people struggle to justify one over the other; however, I teach my students every day that few things in life are only understood from a single perspective.

So faced with conflicting messages from my scientific training and my faith in the Word of God, I stand by my lifelong commitment that both exist well together.  Scientific exploration is a search for truth, as of course, are theological and philosophical study, so why the frequent push to pit one against the other?  Doesn’t God inspire well-intentioned endeavors?  In today’s Gospel the man possessed by Legion was clearly suffering.  Relieving his suffering is right and just. I feel we should use the tools that we have at our disposal to better the lives of others and the world around us. Jesus used His divine powers to heal the man, given that I lack divine powers, I might try medications or psychotherapy, but taking a modern secular approach does not preclude the need to continue using social support and prayer.  Sometimes people of science forget to be people of faith, or compartmentalize their differing views into separate spaces, but in my practice I see time and time again the enduring benefits of letting our hearts take comfort in the Lord.  In my greatest times of personal suffering I have sought scientifically based interventions, and I have knelt in devoted prayer in an empty church.  I can attest that both were healing.


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