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Maurice Timothy ReidyJanuary 25, 2024
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Find today’s readings here.

“When he got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.” (Mk 5:1)

Are you afraid of demons?

I certainly am afraid of the madman in today’s Gospel. Here is the infamous Gerosene demoniac, who can’t be restrained by shackles and is so tortured by evil spirits that he bruises himself with stones.

But that was a long time ago. Do we fear demons today? Do we think demons—or evil spirits—hold any kind of power?

A scene from “The Chosen” (Season 2, Episode 5) inspired by today’s Gospel offers material for reflection.

The disciples are gathered at a campsite. Jesus is away, so when a possessed man arrives, the disciples must face him alone. Mary Magdalene bravely tries to minister to him, pressing him for his real name. But the demons within him are strong. They lash out at her, calling her by the name she had before she met Jesus. Mary is so traumatized by the encounter she leaves the camp and briefly returns to her old life.

These are the demons that Mary faces: the ones who use her past against her. These demons still hold power today.

Pope Francis has called the devil “the great gossiper…who always goes around recounting bad things about others, because he is the liar who seeks to divide the church, to distance brothers and sisters and not create community.”

Thinking of demons in this way, we have all been possessed at one time or another—possessed by envy, by greed, by distrust of another. It is only through our encounters with Jesus that we are made clean.

In the scene from “The Chosen,” the possessed man is healed when Jesus returns and casts out his demons. But the damage is done. Mary Magdalene is gone, and it is only with the help of her friends that she is brought back to Jesus.

In this retelling of the Gospel narrative, our job as Christians becomes clear. We must be on the lookout for the evil spirits among us. And we must seek out those who have been damaged by them and bring them home.

More: Scripture

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