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For Many, A Missed Encounter and For One, Healing and Mission

by Jan 30, 2023Friar Reflection

The man from the tombs was so sick and disorientated that he had no relationship or understanding with other people nor with himself. He could only live among the dead in the cemetery doing injury to himself…and probably to others, too. When Jesus arrives, the man runs to ask for healing. He is so divided that at the same time part of him begins to reject Jesus’ actions. He is so divided that he cannot even say one name. He responds: legion (many). A legion was usually 4,000-5,000 men. What a broken and divided man. In the process of healing the man and restoring unity to him, Jesus sends the evil spirits in a swine head.

After the healing we see a very interesting and common reaction to Jesus’ action in our lives or that of those around us. The town folks to see what had happened. Rather than rejoice and praise God’s healing power and love as shown in the presence and actions of Jesus, the town folks were more upset about the loss of the herd of pigs. They threw him out of the whole district. The Gospel gives the impression that Jesus cannot get any further than the beach where his boat landed. The divisions and idols (fear, money, power) within the town folks did not permit him to penetrate their lives. For them the healing presence of Jesus was an unwelcome disruption of their lives. They missed out on the encounter with the savior.

At the end of the story the healed man pleaded. Not just asked, but pleaded, to go with Jesus. Many times, this is our attitude, too. We want to leave our life and circumstances to take-off with Jesus — maybe go on retreat, stay in the church building, enclose ourselves in a comfortable Christian community. Jesus seeing that he has been kicked-out of the district, leaves the healed man there as his witness. Jesus says: Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you. Discovering the presence of Jesus in our lives through a healing or another form of encounter, leads us to a mission, to proclaim what we have experienced. The story ends with this: Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed. Thanks to the evangelizing efforts of the healed man, the people’s fear turned into amazement.