I’m not someone who enjoys a creepy horror movie depicting the seemingly ordinary and unsuspecting main character who battles for deliverance from the oppression of deadly demonic forces.
But the scene from today’s Gospel reading (Mark 5:1-20) is nothing like a Hollywood horror film intended to frighten and thrill. It portrays a clear demonstration of Jesus’ power, authority, and decisive victory over the very real and destructive forces of sin and Satan within us.
The Gerasenes territory was an eerie Gentile place populated with burial caves and regarded as a favorite hangout of demons. As soon as Jesus steps ashore, He’s met by a man possessed by unclean spirits who experiences unbearable torment, violence, and alienation. No human efforts to restrain this evil power has worked.
But the strength of Legion is no match for the Son of God who binds Satan and sets this man free, transforming him to a state of peace, dignity, and gratitude. Jesus then commissions this man to tell others what God has done for him.
I can’t quite relate to this man’s extreme bondage, but this display of divine power and merciful love evokes some serious personal reflection.
In what areas of my life am I not fully alive, but instead “living among the tombs of the dead”?
Do I believe that Jesus has the power and the desire to radically transform my life, and do I desperately want to be free?
Am I ready and willing to bring to Jesus the interior struggles that keep me bound and chained, or am I driving Him away out of fear and self-reliance?
Do I see myself as Jesus does—clothed with His mercy and righteousness—or am I covered with shame and self-loathing?
And finally, do I respond to Jesus with gratitude and devotion, eager to proclaim to others all that He has done for me?
Let us sit in reflection over these questions today, sisters. Ask the Holy Spirit to make clear to you how you can grow in this area.
Debra Herbeck, a Jewish convert to the Church, has worked extensively in youth and women’s ministry. She has directed Pine Hills Girls Camp for the past 32 years, is the founder and Director of the Be Love Revolution, and also helps lead a ministry called i.d.916. She has written a number of books that can be found here. Debra and her husband Peter live in Ann Arbor, Michigan and are the parents of four children and five adorable grandchildren. She is a contributing author to our Works of Mercy Study: Misericordia.