2Sm 15:13-14,30; Ps 3:2-7; Mk 5:1-20
Today the Psalmist cries out in great fear, “Lord, rise up and save me!” This fear is not far from our own souls as we walk through these last two weeks of ordinary time. Soon our own adversaries will meet us in the wilderness of lent. In the desert we are bound to learn how to pray with today’s responsorial psalm, “O LORD, how many are my adversaries! Many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, ‘There is no salvation for him in God.'” King David is confronted with the second rebellion of his son and the hatred of one of Saul’s relatives. His adversaries are behind and beside him as he seeks to run from certain destruction. Surely this psalm of David expresses his prayer at this point in his life. With him we must remember at such times that the LORD is our shield, and our glory. The LORD answers whenever we call out; he answers from his holy mountain. Indeed, we can relax and rest in our beds because we know that we will awaken, for the LORD sustains us. We need not fear. We need not fear myriads of adversaries arrayed against us on every side. In today’s gospel the Lord Jesus is not afraid of the legion of unclean spirits. Indeed, he travels at our side; we have nothing to fear!
As King David fled from his son, Absalom, “he wept without ceasing.” As the king climbed up the Mount of Olives he wept like his faithful future son, the Lord Jesus, would weep to the point of bleeding in the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. David wept because his son Absalom was unfaithful and Christ wept because he was faithful, a true son of David, the man after God’s own heart. Those running away with King David wanted to spare him yet another sorrow, but King David replied, “If my own son, who came forth from my loins, is seeking my life, how much more might this Benjaminite do so? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.” David was cursed and rejected by his subjects and by his son. Shimei called him a murderous and wicked man. The King did not try to defend himself nor did he try to stop the accusations. In his heart of hearts David knew, “the LORD sustains me”. He was without fear because of his great faith. This is why David is remembered. This is why we still sing the songs of David. The King solved his problems with the harp; it was his singing through the fears of his heart that David grew in faith. Such faith is available to us as with make our journey though this lent and all through life. All we need to do is fill our hearts with the words of the psalms and let these words form our prayer. This is how our Lord Jesus prayed. Is it too much to expect that it will work this way for us?
The Lord Jesus did all that he could for the possessed man and for the local community. The great irony is that he took away the demon, Legion, that had caused so much fear among the town’s folk and they transferred that fear to the Lord. Now, they didn’t want him around; now, they feared the Lord Jesus. Because of this great sign of his power and love, the Lord was no longer welcome there. Therefore, he had to leave behind the man who had been possessed to witness to his family and to the Decapolis what the Lord Jesus had done for him. This wondrous healing brought amazement to all who heard of it. Indeed, all of our demons and addictions cause us to engage in self-destruction. We may not have the nightly ritual of bruising ourselves with stones, but we do dwell among the tombs of our dead hopes and frustrated dreams. Out of despair and darkness the Lord Jesus has summoned us. His power is beyond our empty hopes and groundless fears. His power is revealed in the depths of our hearts as we struggle with temptation and sin. It is the power of the blood of the Lamb, not the blood of a large herd of swine that sets us free from the power of sin and death. Like the liberated demoniac of the Gerasenes we too have a most amazing testimony about the Lord Jesus. His very arrival in our neighborhood causes the demons to fear and the possessed to be free.