Gospel: Mk 5:1-20
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.
Naming the Devil that enslaves us
Have you ever witnessed an exorcism? If you have, you could well understand the drama of the Gospel of today. Jesus comes face to face with a possessed man. The devil immediately recognizes that he is before the Holy One! When a priest is summoned for an exorcism the possessed person often becomes violent even before the priest enters the room where the possessed person is. The devil is quick to sense the presence of a holy man!
Following standard exorcism procedures, Jesus asked the possessed “What is your name?“ And the devil answers “Legion!“ Then Jesus drives away the devils from the possessed man who then recovers his senses.
We, too, are all possessed! Not in the strict literal physical or bodily diabolic possession; but we all suffer from some spiritual-moral form of slavery to sin. We need to “name“ or identify our sinful habits and let the Lord exorcise us! It is much easier to change and come to our senses when we can name or identify the sin or sins that enslave us. Remember, the devil prefers being hidden; when exposed, he can be exorcised!