Comfort and Companionship Amidst the Challenges
Both Scripture selections present major challenges: how do we deal with the demons of lethargy and evil? No small challenge for the people of Jesus’ time, or today.
The Letter to the Hebrews was written in part to give courage and support to the early community of Christians that had lost heart. Their initial fervor had cooled and the “demon” of spiritual lethargy settled among them. The author of Hebrews tried to jog their memories with mention of men and women heroes from the past and all they had endured for the Lord. These ancient heroes had responded to challenges of their times, and could also motivate those dealing with the current challenges in the early Church.
Jesus confronted the reality of evil in the person of the possessed Gerasene. Imagine: a “wild” man from the tombs, unable to be restrained even by chains, shrieking aloud as he roamed the area. He sought out Jesus, and as requested Jesus cast the “legion” of evil spirits into a very large herd of swine that perished as they ran over a nearby cliff. The possessed man’s life was radically re-oriented; Jesus asked him to return to his family and tell them what God had done for him. News of this event spread, and all who heard of this “miracle” or saw the changed Gerasene were truly amazed!
As 21st century disciples, we believe in Jesus — and we are often challenged by today’s demons of despair or lethargy. We likewise see in our world today’s demons of violence, abuse, poverty, injustice. We can all-too-easily say “what’s the use? why try to change the unchangeable?” Jesus meets us head-on and invites us to be in communion with him, and with his people – our brothers and sisters – in the Church. With Jesus, we together seek healing and strength in the Life Jesus offers us in the Scriptures and the Eucharist. We never stand alone but face all life’s challenges with the dynamic Life and fellowship which is ours in Jesus. Who knows what miracles Jesus may work in and through us?
As members of the Passionist family facing the challenges and sufferings of 21st century life, may we “take comfort, all who hope in the Lord”. St. Paul of the Cross and all our Passionist saints and blesseds, pray for us.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is a member of the Passionist community in Chicago, Illinois.