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 Jesus 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)
The possessed man, in today’s scripture, was practically dead—perhaps even worse than dead. The poor soul was consumed by a host of demons, living in the tombs, and isolated from the community. What a hellish existence! He was in pain, crying out and hurting himself. When he lived among others, had he hurt them too?
This is an image of the pain and suffering caused by sin. Sin separates a person from God and others. It shackles and chains a soul. It causes pain and suffering to everyone involved. In short, it causes spiritual death.
Jesus came to save all people from the captivity of sin. He wants to restore us to life and communion with himself and others.
The possessed man had an intimate encounter with God’s mercy. His running to and prostrating himself before Jesus was an act of repentance. After Jesus forgave and freed him from the oppression of the demons, he wanted to follow Jesus. Instead, Jesus told him, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Jesus sent him on a mission to share Christ’s mercy with his loved ones and community. His exile was ended, and his life was restored.
So too with our lives. Jesus waits for us to turn to him, acknowledge our shackles, and receive His love.
We need to admit that each of us bear the shackles of sin. Sometimes its extreme but, most often, its capable of being disguised and others may not see it. Hidden from others eyes, we let it stay with us.
But the moment of truth, the moment of facing our Savior could be as imminent as the moment we cease reading this.
What is the shackle (s) that bind you? That keep you away from God. That cause you to violate his command of loving him and loving one another?
Is it the shackle of hypocrisy? Of discrimination? Of self-pride? Of bitterness? Of anger? Of selfishness? Of lust? Of bitterness? Of anger? Of entitlement? Of an addiction – drugs, alcohol, pornography?
The list could fill a book.
Now is the moment we need to be truthful. Nowis the time to face the shackle and ask the Lord to free us.
Out of the darkest moments of our lives, God’s light shines the brightest. Jesus wants to extend his Divine Mercy to all people. Our own stories of what God has done for us can be powerful instruments of evangelization.
Walk in the light today and let his love and light shine through you.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, unbind me that I may love you wholly and walk in the freedom of your way of life and holiness. May there be nothing which keeps me from the joy of living in your presence.”
We live in a contentious world. We live in a society where the differences between people are growing wider and louder. That contention strengthens the shackles that bind us. We can’t let that darkness envelop us. Jesus is ready and willing to free us from anything that binds us and that keeps us from the love of God. Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from his love and saving grace?