They arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. No sooner did Jesus leave the boat than he was met by a man with evil spirits, who had come from the tombs. The man lived among the tombs, and no one could restrain him, even with a chain. He had often been bound with fetters and chains; but he would pull the chains apart and smash the fetters; and no one had the strength to control him. Night and day he stayed among the tombs on the hillsides, and was continually screaming, and beating himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell at his feet, and cried with a loud voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? For God’s sake, I beg you, do not torment me!” He said this, because Jesus had commanded, “Evil spirit, come out of the man!” When Jesus asked the evil spirit, “What is your name?” it replied, “Legion is my name, for we are many.” And it kept begging Jesus, not to send them out of that region. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding on the hillside, and the evil spirits begged him, “Send us to the pigs, and let us go into them.” So Jesus let them go. The evil spirits came out of the man and went into the pigs; and immediately, the herd rushed down the cliff; and all were drowned in the lake. The herdsmen fled, and reported this in the town and in the countryside. So all the people came to see what had happened.
They came to Jesus, and saw the man freed of the evil spirits, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind; the same man who had been possessed by the legion. They were afraid. And when those who had seen it, told what had happened to the man and to the pigs, the people begged Jesus to leave their neighborhood.
When Jesus was getting into the boat, the man, who had been possessed, begged to stay with him. Jesus would not let him, and said, “Go home to your people, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So he went throughout the country of Decapolis, telling everyone how much Jesus had done for him; and all the people were astonished.
Both of today’s readings present us with an example of quite extraordinary meekness—and God knows that we all need such examples in an age like ours when we are so sensitive about our rights and prerogatives!
The first example is given by David. He is fleeing from his rebellious son Absalom. And he is being cursed on his way by a certain Shimei. David’s men went to kill Shimei for his audacity, but David tells them to leave Shimei alone, hopeful that God would “turn to good things” those curses.
The second example of meekness is given by Jesus, who meekly allows evil spirits to enter into pigs—considered at the time of Jesus to be supremely unclean animals and, therefore, well suited to demonic possession. On the other hand, as a kind of contrast to this largeness of heart, we have the mean-spirited attitude of the Gerasenes. They are more concerned about the loss of their pigs than about the presence of Jesus restoring a possessed madman to sanity. So they beg Jesus to go away. Obviously their pocketbook is more important than their souls. How would we have reacted in their place?
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