Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
II Samuel 15:13-14.30.16:5-13; Mark 5:1-20)
When we think of power, perhaps we conjure images of a nuclear explosion in which a fistful of fissionable material produces a mountainous cloud of gases and dirt of temperatures rivaling the sun’s surface. We might, as well, picture Jesus driving out the demons in the gospel story today. A man, whom no chain could hold down because of the fury of demons that possess him, is tranquilized at the word of Jesus. Meanwhile, the demons show themselves to be so numerous and so forceful that they take hold of a herd of swine and fling them into the sea.
This gospel portrait shows Jesus as more than powerful. He is also, quite surprisingly after such a display of force, demurring and thoughtful. When the people out of fear ask Jesus to leave their area, he concedes to their wish. But when the dispossessed man wants to go with him, Jesus thinks it best that he stay behind to tell his family of the goodness of the Lord. No reason is given for the rejection, but we might speculate that the time is not ripe for non-Jews to join Jesus’ mission.
The story relates that Jesus is truly extraordinary – powerful yet restrained, on a mission yet reflective. Read at mass, it begs that we consider his presence to us this day. We can count on him to provide strength to take on challenges as well as good sense to think through what we are doing. His companionship ensures that we will respect all whom we meet and help those who stand in need.