(Thursday, September 7)

And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.” (Mk 5:5)

Today’s Gospel-reading is about the possessed man in “the land of the Gadarenes,” whom our Lord heals, by sending the “Legion” of unclean spirits into the herd of swine. Most of my readers probably know the story. I want to focus today just on its beginning and end: 1. On the fact that the man was self-harming on his own, in the mountains and tombs; and 2. On the fact that after he is healed, he wants to stay with our Lord, but He tells the man to “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.

Here’s how some of us might be able to relate to this story. When we are afflicted by something similar, – perhaps not demonic possession, which I myself do not entirely understand, – but by something self-destructive, like an addiction or obsession, we do eventually self-isolate and end up alone with the thing or thought to which we have formed an unhealthy attachment. And while we are in this state, we may not be “cutting ourself with stones” as was the man in the land of the Gadarenes, but we do self-harm by engaging the addiction or obsession.

But when we reach out for help, to God and/or others, through whom God helps us enter the path of recovery or salvation, (and help *is* abundantly available today, for example, in 12-Step programs, for anyone out there who is still suffering from something like this), we eventually are sent back “home,” as was this man, – and this is not always easy. There are amends to be made, relationships to be healed, business to be taken care of, and so on. But all this is also quite dignifying, in that we become witnesses to “the great things the Lord has done” for us. Lord, help us come out of our self-inflicted tombs, if we are still suffering alone, and let us reach out for help, that we may glorify Your holy name to the benefit of ourselves and others. Amen!