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Monday Week 4 Year I

Print Version February 3rd, 2003

Recognising Jesus isn’t important at all … demons do it all the time in the gospel, even the pigs do it … in fact just about everyone in this story recognises Jesus.
Nor is getting the title right of any consequence: ‘Son of the Most High God’ the possessed man names him and names him right.
What does matter is what comes next. Do we draw near or do we run away? The story is one of attraction and aversion. The story is one of fear and desire. Before he even speaks we know the dance fear and desire tread in him—this is someone who lives among tombs by choice. No chain can bind him, no fetter restrain him, but the stronger bonds of his own fear hold him among the dead. He would rather keep company with corpses than risk a life among the living. That’s fear at work, fear and aversion and a hope extinguished once too often. But he names himself right when he says he is legion—he is not alone in his skin. There is desire and attraction too. Something brings him to the feet of Jesus, begging for mercy. Something good.
Now the great thing about this story is that desire and hope win out over fear and pain. The man is healed and his need to keep Jesus away turns into a desire to keep close. But though good wins out there seems to be a sort of conservation-law at work—all that fear of life has to go somewhere. And Mark has this wild and accurate image of 2,000 frenzied pigs rushing downhill and over the cliff to the death for which they long. That’s fear for you. But even that doesn’t balance the books completely—the local people have caught it too and now they want Jesus to go away just the way the possessed man did originally.
So recognising Jesus isn’t the issue, or getting his theological titles right. What matters is whether we are afraid of him or not. Or—what amounts to almost the same thing—whether we are afraid of life or not. Because the two go together. All of us have our moments when the tomb seems safer than the home. All of us do the emotional equivalent of gashing ourselves with stones. And all of us are legion—fear and desire slug it out inside us. Jesus is so very attractive to us but every now and again he scares us witless.
The good news of this story is that even the fear doesn’t matter as long as we tell Jesus about it. The poor demoniac lets his fear talk but Jesus hears the desire underneath and gives him more than he asks for—gives him back his own skin and his own heart and a his own new life.
That’s a gift we all need.

Entry Filed under: Homilies,Loyola Hall

1 Comment

  • 1. Chris Gibson  |  March 7th, 2008 at 6:51 am

    The bible says in proverbs “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe.” Jesus’ very name carries such power that demons and the forces of evil in the world cannot handle it. It is really amazing.


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