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Molly CahillJanuary 30, 2023
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Find today’s readings here.

“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, do not torment me!”
(He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”)
He asked him, “What is your name?” (Mk 5:7-9)

The central question for all of us in today’s Gospel comes from the mouth of an unlikely prophet: a man who has what Mark calls an “unclean spirit.”

“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”

The man can’t imagine that Jesus has any business with him, so he assumes that he must be approaching him for the same reasons it seems everyone else does: to torment him, to restrain him, to label him. But Jesus surprises him with a different mode of operating, one of curiosity.

What does Jesus have to do with this man? Well, he wants to know who he is. His response is simply to ask the man’s name.

The rest of the passage is far from simple; Jesus calls out the unclean spirit and sends it into a nearby herd of swine who then rush into the sea and drown. (A miraculous and weird moment that sounds more like sci-fi than Scripture!) When the man, now free of his unclean spirit, begs to stay with Jesus, Jesus refuses. Instead, he encourages him to return to his family and tell them what has been done for him, and that’s exactly what the man does.

God is eager to know each one of us by name, to become our friend as we trudge along the road to healing.

Even as society threw this man aside, Jesus wanted to know him by name. He wanted not only to heal him of his affliction but also to simply meet him face to face. Is this an attitude that we model in our own lives? When the people around us, whether they be friends or colleagues or even strangers, are struggling, do we meet them with curiosity or with fear? Do we get to know them by name?

Maybe an even more challenging question on some days: Do we believe that this is how Jesus approaches us, too? Often we are like the man with the unclean spirit, unable to imagine that there is anything personal Jesus might want with us. In our moments with members of our community and in our moments alone with God, it’s important to remember that God is eager to know each one of us by name, to become our friend as we trudge along the road to healing.

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