The Power of God’s Word

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

He pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory.
(Mark 5:10)

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.

Jesus and His disciples came to the Gerasene region in the other side of the sea. As they disembarked, a demoniac from the tombs came to meet Him. No one could bind this man, not even with chains. He broke the chains apart and the shackles on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus he ran and fell on his knees before Him, shouting, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torment me!” (For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”) Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion is my name, for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again not to send them away, but to send them instead among a large herd of pigs feeding nearby. He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand pigs, rushed down a steep bank and drowned in the sea. Those tending the pigs reported this in the town and country, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed now sitting there, dressed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. They 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 family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has shown mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell all over the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. (Mark 5:1-20)

Reflection

The territory of the Gerasenes was considered to be heathen territory, and lay in the easternmost shore of the lake of Galilee. The apostles had just seen an awesome display of divine power when Jesus calmed the winds and turbulent waves as they were crossing over to the other side. This time they would witness His power over the evil supernatural forces, thus proving once again that He was really the Son of God. In the first chapter of Mark, Jesus had expelled an evil spirit in the synagogue of Capernaum. Note that the Gerasene evil spirits greeted Jesus with the same words: “What have you to do with me (us), Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” It may seem all the forces of hell acknowledged the divinity of Jesus. But our Lord dismissed their false worship, and consigned them through the pigs into the deep abyss of the sea.

The authority that Jesus displayed in the pagan territory of the Gerasenes signaled the start of the conversion of the Gentiles. He did not want the exorcized man to go with Him, because Jesus wanted him to be His herald, to “announce to them all that the lord in His pity has done for you.” And indeed the man went off to proclaim to the whole Decapolis region what Jesus had done for him. (Mk. 5:19-20)

What is the Word of God telling us in this long Gospel passage? First, that the reality of being possessed by the devil 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 about 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 to counter the forces of Satan, who has already been defeated by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, 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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