January 31, 2022
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University - Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memrorial of Saint John Bosco, Priest
Lectionary: 323

2 Samuel 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13
Psalm 3:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Mark 5:1-20

Praying Ordinary Time

The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside. And people came out to see what had happened. As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion sitting there clothed and in his right mind. - Mark

Lights! Camera! Action!

A wild-eyed man possessed by demons tears though a cemetery, desecrating it. He terrifies everyone he encounters – everyone but Jesus.  Jesus sees that he is possessed, confronts the man’s “Legion” of demons and drives them into a herd of pigs. The pigs stampede off a cliff to their deaths.

Meanwhile the man whom Jesus frees from the demons returns to his right mind and embraces faith in his healer.
What a biblical movie scene! WOW! It’s so much more gripping than all that preaching about loving your enemies and helping the poor. YESS!!! Viewers will love it!


While this passage is exciting, it also has always seemed just plain odd, especially the driving of the demons into a perfectly innocent herd of hogs. What did they have to do with this?

This action is so gripping that it’s hard to focus on the passage’s message: that Jesus can free us from our OWN demons.
Admit it. We all have them and they take many forms. No one is exempt from depression, anxiety, addiction or being unable to overcome our favorite vices.  We may not be publicly possessed like the man in Mark’s gospel, but our demons can deny us “the peace that passes all understanding.”

Jesus isn’t going to drive my own difficulty forgiving and forgetting into any beast wandering my neighborhood, so I need to start by identifying my issue as a demon, admitting my need for help and praying for it.

The Jesuit Examen seems like it would work especially well for this exercise but the important thing is to seek  the help we need, however we do it. Then we have to trust that Jesus will respond.

If he could drive a legion of demons from a violently troubled man like the one in today’s gospel, he can help us combat our own legions of garden-variety neurotic behaviors, favorite vices, hurts and grudges.

Good luck in conquering your demons and finding peace!

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