MONDAY 4TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME GOSPEL, COMMENTARY AND READING. THE GERASENE DEMONIAC (Mk 5:1–20).
GOSPEL OF MONDAY OF THE 4TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
THE GERASENE DEMONIAC
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.
- vv 1-20 The inhabitants of Gerasa were mostly pagans, as one can gather from the fact that there was such a huge herd of swine there (which must have belonged to a number of different people). Jews were forbidden to raise pigs or eat pork (Lev 11:7).
- This miracle emphasizes, once more, the existence of the devil and his influence over men’s lives: if God permits it, the devil can harm not only humans but also animals. When Christ allows the demons to enter the swine, the malice of the demons becomes obvious: they are tormented at not being able to do men harm and therefore they ask Christ to let them, at least, inflict themselves on animals. This he does, in order to show that they would have the same effect on men as they have on these swine, if God did not prevent them.
- Clearly it was not Jesus’ intention to punish the owners of the swine by the loss of the herd: since they were pagans they were not subject to the precepts of the Jewish law. Rather, the death of the swine is visible proof that the demon has gone out of the possessed man.
- Jesus permitted the loss of some material goods because these were of infinitely less value than the spiritual good involved in the cure of the possessed man.
- vv 15-20 Notice the different attitudes to Jesus Christ: the Gerasenes beg him to go away; the man freed from the devil wants to stay with him and follow him, The inhabitants of Gerasa have had our Lord near them, they have seen his divine powers, but they are very self-centred: all they can think about is the material damage they have suffered through the loss of the herd; they do not realize the marvel Jesus has worked. Christ has invited them and offered them his grace but they do not respond: they reject him. The man who has been cured wants to follow Jesus with the rest of his disciples but our Lord refuses; instead he gives him a task which shows Christ’s unlimited compassion for all men, even for those who reject him: the man is to stay in Gerasa and proclaim to the whole neighbourhood when the Lord has done for him. Perhaps they will think again and realize who he is who has visited them, and escape from the sins their greed has led them to commit. These two attitudes are to be found whenever Christ passes by — as are Jesus’ mercy and continuous offer of grace : our Lord does not want the death of the sinner but rather that he should turn from his way and live (cf. Ezek 18:23).
- v. 20 The “Decapolis” or “country of the ten cities”, among the more famous of which are Damascus, Philadelphia, Scythopolis, Gadara, Pella and Gerasa. The region was located to the east of the lake of Gennesaret and was inhabited mainly by pagans of Greek and Syrian origin. This territory came under the Roman governor of Syria.
- Leprosy, demons, all the miseries that can oppress men, all are overcome with supreme ease by Christ the Savior .
- St. Maximus the Confessor writes: “The strength of demons decreases when the observance of the commandments weakens the passions in us. It is eliminated when, by the effect of interior freedom, these passions finally disappear from the soul because they no longer find in it the complicities which serve as the basis for her attacks (Centurias sobre caridad 2, 22).”
- We are always exposed to the temptations of the devil. That is why St. Leo the Great exhorts us: “Beloved, based on the hope [of the triumph of Christ], beware of all the tricks of the devil, who not only seeks to surprise you with bodily pleasures, but also sows the harmful weeds of lie in the good wheat of faith, and tries to desecrate the field of truth, to bring down through evil mistakes those who have not been corrupted by bad deeds … Freed from these dangers by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, we bear with joyful faith all the trials and skirmishes of the present life (Homily 69, 5).”
Stay safe and healthy. God bless. Fr. Rolly Arjonillo.
Grant us, Lord our God, that we may honor you with all our mind, and love everyone with rightful affection. Through our Lord.Collect prayer 4th week in Ordinary Time
TOPIC: ARE YOU A MATERIAL GIRL, OR, A MATERIAL MAN?
In today’s gospel reading (Mark 5:1-20), a man possessed by demons had the power to smash through chains and people were afraid to be near him. But when Jesus appeared, the demons were the ones stricken with fear. They strike a bargain with Jesus as they didn’t want to leave the place – they were willing to be placed into a herd of pigs. We reflect today on the attitude of the swineherds who prioritize their pigs over Jesus and the well-being of a healed man.
READING FROM ST. HILARY OF POITIERS
The hearts and minds of all believers were one
Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity! It is good and pleasant for brothers to dwell in unity, because when they do so their association creates the assembly of the Church. The term “brothers” describes the bond of affection arising from their singleness of purpose.
We read that when the apostles first preached, the chief instruction they gave lay in this saying: The hearts and minds of all believers were one. So it is fitting for the people of God to be brothers under one Father, to be united under one Spirit, to live in harmony under one roof, to be limbs of one body.
It is pleasant and good for brothers to dwell in unity. The prophet suggested a comparison for this good and pleasant activity when he said: It is like the ointment on the head which ran down over the beard of Aaron, down upon the collar of his garment. Aaron’s oil was made of the perfumes used to anoint a priest. It was God’s decision that his priest should have his consecration first, and that our Lord should be so anointed, but not visibly, by those who are joined with him. Aaron’s anointing did not belong to this world; it was not done with the horn used for kings, but with the oil of gladness. So afterwards Aaron was called the anointed one as the Law prescribed. When this oil is poured out upon men of unclean heart, it snuffs out their lives, but when it is received as an anointing of love, it exudes the sweet odour of harmony with God. As Paul says, we are the goodly fragrance of Christ. So just as it was pleasing to God when Aaron was anointed priest with this oil, so it is good and pleasant for brothers to dwell in unity.
Now the oil ran down from his head to his beard. A beard adorns a man of mature years. We must not be children before Christ except in the restricted scriptural sense of being children in wickedness but not in our way of thinking. Now Paul calls all who lack faith, children, because they are too weak to take solid food and still need milk. As he says: I fed you with milk rather than the solid food for which you were not yet ready; and you are still not ready.
Stay updated: subscribe by email for free TO OUR NEW WEBSITE www.catholicsstrivingforholiness.org (PUT YOUR EMAIL IN THE SUBSCRIBE WIDGET).
We are also in www.fb.com/Catholicsstrivingforholiness. Kindly help more people in their Christian life by liking our page and inviting your family, friends and relatives to do so as well. Thanks in advance and God bless you and your loved ones! Fr. Rolly Arjonillo