Daily Reflection – 2/4/19
Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him. The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain. In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him, crying out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!” (He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”) He asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.” And he pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside. And they pleaded with him, “Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.” And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned. 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. And they were seized with fear. Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine. Then they began to beg him to leave their district. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. But he would not permit him but told him instead, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed. ( Mark 5:1-20)
Can you imagine a more unlovable human being than the man described in today’s Gospel reading? Here was a person, full of sin, full of Satan, homeless, scurrying through the mountains, streets and graveyards. How would we respond to this man?
Mark describes a list of responses to this unattractive figure. Some tried to tame him, others tried to change his habits and reform him. Failing that, he was chained and ultimately shunned, ignored and marginalized.
What is God calling us to do? How should we respond to those who are unlovable? Jesus saw beyond what this man was –to what he could be. After this man experienced the love of Christ, he wanted to be close to Jesus. He was drawn to serve the Kingdom of God. We the ambassadors of Christ are called to allow Christ’s Spirit of love, hope and compassion to work through us – with the power of the Holy Spirit – to love the unlovable. This doesn’t come easily or naturally. It is natural to love people who are lovable- who are like us. It is a work of God in us to love the unlovable-those who are different for any number of reasons.
Christ can change anybody. Christ’s love can revolutionize anybody’s life, but His love must first be shared and then received. And so, the obvious lesson for us is to in faith, “become comfortable being uncomfortable” and seek to manifest the love of Christ through us to those who the world says are unworthy.
There is however, another lesson for us in this Gospel, one that is much subtler. How do we view God in our own lives as sinners? Do we see God as the chief judge – harsh and strict in response to our sin – or as our Father who loves us unconditionally? Do we accept and embrace that Christ can change not only the unlovable man of the Gospel –but even us? When we sin, do we see ourselves as unlovable and thus cause a rift between God’s unconditional love for us?
Let’s remind ourselves that God is always there waiting for us – and even in our sin we only should knock, and the door shall be opened.
Prayer of The Day
Lord God, help me to be uncomfortable. Bring me to those situations in life where I can be an instrument of your love. No matter where I am, there are those who could use kindness and caring. Keep me focused on bring your servant of love wherever it is needed.
“Undertake courageously great tasks for God’s glory, to the extent that he’ll give you power and grace for this purpose. Even though you can do nothing on your own, you can do all things in him. His help will never fail you if you have confidence in his goodness. Place your entire physical and spiritual welfare in his hands. Abandon to the fatherly concern of his divine providence every care for your health, reputation, property, and business; for those near to you; for your past sins; for your soul’s progress in virtue and love of him; for your life, death, and especially your salvation and eternity—in a word, all your cares. Rest in the assurance that in his pure goodness, he’ll watch with particular tenderness over all your responsibilities and cares, arranging all things for the greatest good.”— St. John Eudes,