The storm approaches. The whistling winds of societal decay whirl past our ears, deafening us to their blows. The torrential rain of sin blinds mankind to the Source of all mercy – the loving Father Who sent His only Son to redeem humanity. The Spirit of the Lord desires with intensity to live among us as our Guide, yet we reject Him. He desires for us an everlasting, intimate union; eternal, joyful bliss. Can we find that union?
Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Mt 7:7-8).
Today is the day. Every day is the day. The man must reconvert his heart each day, drawing closer to the Lord. Reflecting on the state of the fallen world, he must recognize his own failings. This painful observation comes through meditating on the Word. Like the demoniac in the gospel of Mark, the man is drawn toward the Light: the one, true light in the world.
They came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him (Mk 5:1-2).
On his journey for mercy, the man hears a soul-penetrating call: he cannot stop, he must not stop; he must move toward the Divine Light – the light that calls him to increase the pace of his journey home. The world roars like a tormented lion in need of a multitude of soldiers for Christ. But is the man ready for such a call? Will there be others listening to this call? Will the lions devour the Lamb? Can the man bring hope to souls he meets along the way, facilitating their return to the only Way – Christ, the source of hope and life?
The despair of the fallen world can burden a soul that has lost the divine light. The man must decide out of his own free will. Shall he move forward in relation to the call or shall he just walk away? There can be no standing still, but his God-given warrior soul will not allow him to walk away. He must respond to the clear, yet almost imperceptible, call to do the will of the Father.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain. In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day, among the tombs and on the hillsides, he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones (Mk 5:3-5).
Like the demoniac, the man has lived among the tombs of the world. He bruised and battered his own soul, causing the latter to cry out to God for mercy. The forbidden call of darkness had caught his eye and, for far too long, had also caught his soul. How merciful are the Father and His only begotten Son to forgive with joy the man’s lapse of his senses? The Sacred Heart of Christ labors for the world, still mystically pierced by those who reject His mercy and the man’s own heart is torn, pained for his God. The world, unchained, convulses at the sound of the Word.
For the man, to live in the world is to know the storm. The shackles of sin and its destruction reveal the nakedness of the whole of humanity, as the boldness and cowardliness of the Evil One seek to devour all in their path. In a failure of humility, the man recognizes that we are ever so comfortable in our nakedness. Even he had, at times, been comfortable in his nakedness.
As has occurred numerous times before, a prayer wells up from the man’s inmost being:
“Lord, have mercy. Help me to become a man of Your will.”
And in the depths of his own heart, he receives a response:
“I will it. Are you ready?”
Can the man break the shackles of his own struggles? Can humanity separate itself from the chains of sin? If yes, how?
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him, crying out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you, by God, do not torment me!” (Mk 5:6-7).
The answer to the man’s questions comes to him from the mouth of the demoniac. He must prostrate himself before his Savior and ask, What have You to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Surely, it is not that simple?! But the answer to his question remains consistent since his moment of conversion:
“Trust and I will guide you. Follow My will and joy will be forever yours.”
He asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.” And he pleaded earnestly with Him not to drive them away from that territory (Mk 5:8-9).
The sins of men and women swarm the earth, enveloping it in darkness. Legion has once again taken command of the willing masses. And there stands the man, head down, shamed by his participation.
The sin of the man must be uprooted from the fertile ground where it has been planted over five decades ago. His heart screams from the pain of letting go.
“But, Lord, I don’t want to change. I’m comfortable where I am! My sins are innumerable. How can I let them go?!”
Will the enticement of his sins ever fade? They will and let them go, he must. For God has a plan.
Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside. And they pleaded with him, “Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.” And He let them and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea where they were drowned (Mk 5:10-13).
The scream of terror and despair must have shaken the earth as the demons entered the swine, thinks the man. Like the swineherd, the world around him squeals relentlessly as it turns its back on the Savior of humanity. The world, in its fallen nature, appears willing to throw itself headlong off a cliff and into the dark abyss, because evil is repelled by the purity of Christ and His message. The heart of the man experiences the thrust of the soldier’s lance deep within its core. He knows that the Heart of the Lord still cries out in pain for the men, women, and children of today.
The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside. And people came out to see what had happened. As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind, and they were seized with fear (Mk 5:14-15).
The true presence of Christ seizes the “enemy” with fear – Fear of change, fear of the unknown, threatens to seize humanity. How easy it is for the man to remain unchanged, complacent in sin?
Has not the Father impressed upon the man’s soul, innumerable times,
“Be not afraid.”
Like the demoniac, a changed man, healed through the mercy of his Savior, the man can sit in peace among the tumultuous storm beating around him. From the depth of his being, the Lord reminds him of what is ahead:
“Be prepared to be rejected as I was rejected.”
But the spirit of the man, moved by the Holy Spirit, responds with serenity out of love for the Father:
The man knows that he cannot reject the love of God. He must embrace it and act.
Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine. Then they began to beg him to leave their district (Mk 5-16-17).
Even in the presence of great miracles, the man knows that the world has rejected the Truth. Post-modern humanity does not acknowledge the existence of the Truth- Jesus Christ. How can it be that his Father in heaven can desire the man to risk everything for Him? What is pleasure on earth, in comparison to what the Father has prepared for those who love Him and who do His will? Forever, the joy!
As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with Him. But He would not permit him, but told him instead, “Go home to your family and announce to them all what the Lord in His pity has done for you.” Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him, and all were amazed (Mk 5:18-20).
With every fiber of his being, the man desires to kneel before God in praise of His great glory. Discovering a love he does not comprehend, he would much prefer to rest forever in the Sacred Heart of his Savior. At first, the nudge comes. Then it is followed by a push:
“Go out, spread the good news. From mercy springs hope; eternal hope.”
The Father’s will becomes the man’s desire. Winding before him, the road becomes the plan. Trusting, he takes the first steps, like a one-year-old child just learning to walk, as the Spirit holds his hand.
God is good.