Jesus meets him as soon as Jesus gets out of the boat. By now, Jesus must be accustomed to welcome parades made up of people in need of healing. But this man approaches him with suspicion, not supplication, with the expectation of torture, not of teaching.
His fear is not unfounded. The man has been separated from his community and himself. Far from free, he has been chained and set apart when his demon has raged within him; at least until he escapes to the wilderness to wander amongst the tombs. He expects nothing different from Jesus. Fear and isolation will do that to a person.
But instead of the man begging for his life, the demon begs Jesus not to send it back. Liberator that he is, Jesus frees the demon to its fate, to drown in the bodies of pigs.
Do not be surprised when those whose communities have harmed them in the name of helping are suspicious of the motives of Jesus’ followers. Do not be surprised when someone you meet asks not for healing but instead for you to help them to destroy what keeps them from wholeness.
Where is the lake of Galilee in your community? What boundary might you need to cross to come into contact with those who live in isolation? Chances are, you know. What unspoken force keeps you away? Would you be able to overcome the suspicion that you are there to do harm? Would you be able to do good?
These are not flippant questions. They are the ones that Jesus’ actions hold up to his disciples as a mirror. Do we have any genuine help to offer those who suffer in our community without harming them with what we think they need? And will we offer help?
Jesus, guide me to the places where you would go. May I be a force of healing and not of bondage. Amen.
The fact that we trust in God does not guarantee that life will be easy. Believers suffer discouragement as well. Elijah is a powerful prophet of God who faces profound discouragement. He looks around and sees faithlessness and desolation, as does the psalmist wrestling with his own sense of despair. In both cases the person’s spirit is revived—by divine visitation to Elijah and by the psalmist’s self-talk about the truth of God’s faithfulness. The New Testament readings take us in a different direction. Paul speaks of the freedom we have when we are in Christ, heirs to all of God’s promises. The Gospel writer tells of another kind of freedom, the freedom experienced by a man delivered from demon possession.
Read 1 Kings 19:1-15a. Recall a time you ran to a silent place. How did God send you back into the world?
Read Psalm 42. The author asks us to imagine the words of this psalm coming from the mouth of Elijah and the Gerasene man. Consider how these words might be yours as well.
Read Galatians 3:23-29. How does your faith in Christ help you to embrace the freedom that comes from lack of division rather than to flee in fear?
Read Luke 8:26-39. What true story do you have to tell to the world of what Jesus has done for you?
Responda publicando una oración.