Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection January 29, 2024


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R/. Arise, Lord, save me.

V/. Alleluia R/. Alleluia

V/. A great prophet has arisen among us, and God has visited his people.

R/. Alleluia

At that time: Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the lake, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea. The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demonpossessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marvelled.

1.      In today’s word of God, we have two contrasting spirits, a benevolent spirit, and a malevolent spirit. The benevolent spirit is a godly spirit, symbolized by David in the first reading, and the malevolent spirit is demoniac, symbolized by the demon-possessed man in the gospel. David was attacked to be dethroned by his own son Absalom and he was cursed by a relative of Saul.

2.       But, how noble and humble David was! He offers no resistance against Absalom. He did not react against the cursing man. Even when his men wanted to kill the cursing man, David rebuked them, saying that it was permitted by God Himself.

3.       If God Himself wanted it that way, then who are we to block the way of God? Besides, he believes that such humiliation can become an act of atonement and reparation to obtain God’s mercy.

4.       On the other hand, in the gospel, we have a man possessed by an unclean spirit. He lives among the tombs, indicating his alienation from others. He was bound with chains and shackles, indicating boundedness by sin. He could not be subdued by anyone, indicating being uncontrollable and rebellious.

5.       He was always crying, indicating the nature of grumbling and lamenting. He was cutting himself with stones, indicating self-inflicting actions. All these are the typical characteristics of an evil spirit.

6.       Jesus heals the demon-possessed man whereby he becomes well-clothed and regains the right mind. Interestingly, Jesus sends the legion of demons into a herd of two thousand pigs. They run and get drowned in the sea.

7.       Certainly a huge loss! Perhaps through this, Jesus wants to make it very clear that the sanity and well-being of a human person are far more important than any material gain.

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