A reading from the gospel according to Mark 5:1-20:
1 Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes.
2 When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.
3 The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
4 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.
5 Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
6 Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him,
7 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!”
8 (He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”)
9 He asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.”
10 And he pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory.
11 Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.
12 And they pleaded with him, “Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.”
13 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.
14 The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside. And people came out to see what had happened.
15 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.
16 Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine.
17 Then they began to beg him to leave their district.
18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
19 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.”
20 Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.
Reflection: Authority Over Dark Forces
Once again, Jesus has shown in this gospel reading His power to drive out demons. When He said let us go “to the other side”, He meant to go the place where the Israelites feared to have been infested by evil beings. While crossing the sea, there was a huge storm and His disciples were terrified. In the gospel account above, we can assume that the disciples were again fearful of these evil forces especially when they saw the man with unclean spirit. Yet Jesus was with them and the unclean spirits were sent away.
The gospel accounts of people possessed by unclean spirits are real even in today’s world. That fact we do not often witness one indicates it is becoming a rarity. We believe this is due to the truth that once we become a follower of Jesus, our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit and evil forces have no place in us.
Yet the presence of dark forces in the world today and even in our own life is very subtle. The devil still possesses powers and He is actively seeking the ruin of souls. He works in people with hidden but diabolic agenda. He lures people to His side in appealing and convincing ways such as through corrupt politicians and immoral celebrities. Even today, people are afraid of the devil they do not see but many of them clap their hands to applaud these kinds of politicians and celebrities. Let us be wary of devilish behaviors and we must always cling to Jesus who is more powerful than any entity.