Demon Possession

Mark 5:1-20
Heb 11:32-40 / Psa 31

What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!
(Mark 5:7)

Avoid any form of obsession
It will lead us away from the Lord;
From the evil spirits’ possession,
We’re freed by the power of God’s Word.

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came to meet Him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him, not even with a chain. He would tear the chains apart and break the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of Him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding nearby. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the possessed man—and about the pigs as well. Then the people pleaded with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with Him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. (Mark 5:1-20)

Reflection

The Gerasenes was a heathen territory that lay in the easternmost shore of the sea of Galilee. Jesus had just displayed His awesome power in calming the winds and turbulent waves as they were crossing over to the other side of the lake. This time His disciples would witness the same power over the demonic forces, thus proving once more that He was really the Son of God. More importantly, this power signaled the beginning of the gentiles’ conversion. Jesus refused the former demoniac’s plea to go with Him, because Jesus wanted him to go on a mission to announce “all that the lord in His pity has done for you.” And indeed the man went off as Jesus’ witness of God’s saving power to the whole Decapolis region. (Mk. 5:19-20)

What is the Word of God telling us in today’s Gospel passage? First, that the reality of being taken over by evil spirits cannot be taken for granted. The legion of Satan had sovereignty over the Gerasenes because the people there were non-believers. They did not want to have anything to do with Jesus even when our Lord had purged their land of evil spirits. If we are more obsessed with our material possessions than with the Good News of salvation, then we are more vulnerable to being possessed by evil spirits. But this Gospel passage also tells us that we must not fear their power, because we have a greater power in the love and mercy of God, which extend even to non-believers. Jesus took the trouble to visit that pagan territory to free them from the bondage of Satan, even if He was not wanted there. Finally, this episode also reminds us that if we hold fast to the Word of God, to our faith, and to the teachings of our Church, we have the hope of the Holy Spirit countering the forces of Satan, who has already been defeated by our Lord Jesus Christ. In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul said, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient … gratifying the cravings of (the) flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Eph.2:1-5)

Lord, let your Holy Spirit keep me steadfast in faith, persevering in imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ, that I may never be swayed again by the evil one. Amen.

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