2 Samuel 15: 13-14, 30; 16:5-13
Psalm 3: 2-3. 4-5, 6-7
Mark 5: 1-20
Through the stories in the Book of Samuel, we have been reading and reflecting on how Yahweh gradually transformed the Hebrew people from a group of tribes into a Kingdom.
Today’s first reading tells of the report to David that the children of Israel have transferred their loyalty to Absalom and David’s fearful flight from Jerusalem. The reading brings to light the experience of paradox: How to discern Yahweh’s (God’s) presence in the midst of political intrigue within relationships and ambitions. Our own life experience tells us that our family and community stories are tied up in ongoing growth though joys, sorrows, struggles, questions – all that arise as we experience in life that is often filled with contradictions. Understood in a faith sense, paradox is rooted in mystery, for paradox is the harmonization of conflicting experiences that in themselves seem irreconcilable, but that through another force acting upon them in critical moments, create a new or transformed reality. We know that this force is God’s presence, God’s grace that transforms contradictions into paradox if we develop the ‘sight’ that would enable us to recognize and SEE at a deeper level… resulting in our cooperation, not our control.
Question: Where do we experience paradox in our lives today and where/how is God transforming us through the experience?
In our Psalm response, we recognize that in our many difficulties and adversarieswe have words to pray: "Lord, rise up and save me."
Today’s Gospel tells the story of a "mad" man with unclean spirits who dwelt among the tombs in the territory of the Gerasenes and meets Jesus and the disciples as they get out of their boat. The unclean spirits in the man plead to be put into the herd of swine and as they enter them, the large herd rushes down the steep bank into the sea and drown. Hearing the report, people throughout the countryside come to see what happened and they see the previously possessed man, now sitting clothed and in his right mind. The native people were afraid and want him to leave their district, but he pleads to go with Jesus. Instead Jesus tells him to "God home… tell his story…and the man went off and began to proclaim what Jesus had done for him and all were amazed.
As we see Jesus in this story, we see his patience, respect and gentleness toward the sick man, He uses his power over the unclean spirits, and when the man, now cured wants to stay with Jesus, he sends him forth as a missionary-disciple to proclaim through the district what Jesus had done for him. Jesus saw in him, not his mental illness, but one of God’s beloved children.
As we reflect on this gospel today, when have we been changed or healed by our encounter and relationship with Jesus? Where and to whom are we called to go, live and tell the story!
Marcella Fabing, CSJ at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center, Citrus Heights, CA.