They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, “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 had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it.Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him.
But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Lord, why would anyone beg a miracle worker to “leave their district”? But don’t I do the same when I push you away? The people of the territory of Gerasenes were “seized with fear” when they saw how changed the possessed man became.
I too am afraid of the transformation I would need to make if I truly accepted you into my life. I would rather spend my days and nights among the tombs and wandering the hillsides, than to allow you to lead me into unfamiliar territory. I wonder what I would do with my hands if I were to ever to let go of the stones I use to bruise myself—the need to be admired, the endless unnecessary worry, the self-righteousness.
Lord, help me to welcome you into my life. Help me be unafraid to proclaim all you have done for me.
—Peg Anderson, a partner in Chicago’s Fox Swibel law firm, is on the board of the Ignatian Spirituality Project.
Give me your strength, Lord, because sometimes things get tough…
and I am ready to quit.
Give me your love, Lord, because sometimes people reject me…
and I am tempted to hate.
Give me your eyes, Lord, because sometimes life gets dark…
and I lose my way.
Give me your courage, Lord, because often I feel pressure…
and it is hard to do what is right.
Give me yourself, Lord, because my heart was made for you…
and I will not rest until I rest in you.
—Fr. Mark Link, S.J. (1924–2017)