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."
Did you know that Jesus created the first batch of deviled ham? Let's find out how He did it!
In today's Gospel, Mark 5:1-20, the story is set in the land of the Gerasenes which is on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. This area was considered to be Gentile (non-Jewish) territory.
We are introduced to a demon-possessed man who is living among the tombs of the area. He is a tortured soul, crying and screaming out all of the time; probably physically harming himself in the process. Attempts to bind him in the past have failed, showing he has a supernatural demonic strength.
Upon Jesus' approach, the demons react to His presence, bowing down, and recognizing Him as "Jesus, Son of the Most High God." Jesus asks, "What is your name?" to which they reply, "Legion" - implying many, many demons are inside of the man. A typical Roman Legion in this time was comprised of around 5,000 to 6,000 men, so we now understand why this man could not be stopped by mere mortals. The "Legion" begs not to be tortured or be sent out of the area. "Send us into the pigs," they cry. Jesus grants them their wish, sending them into the herd of pigs, about 2,000 in number. The pigs then promptly run off the cliff and into the lake where they drown.
Witnesses to these events told others who came running to see Jesus and the healed man. Fear engulfed them and they pleaded with Jesus to leave, which He did. Why did they do this? Two-thousand pigs would be worth no small fortune to the owners. To lose that much livestock would be financially devastating. Therefore, other owners of livestock are afraid of losing theirs. Jesus, however, realized that one man is much more valuable than a lot of pigs.
Afterwards, the man begs to go with Jesus as a disciple. However, Jesus instructs him to go home to his family and to "tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you." The man does this, and goes to the Decapolis which was a group of ten cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire in Judea and Syria. The crowds are amazed. God's plan for this man was to help spread the word among the Gentiles.
We are all like the crazed man when we become hopelessly depressed, beating ourselves up with self-destructive thoughts and actions. We must remember that the One inside us - Jesus - will not give up on us. He has the ability and power to slay literal demons along with the figurative ones which plague us. Just like the healed man, Jesus has plans for us and wants us to be able to carry out His divine will and spread the Good News to the world!
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Psalms 93, 96 or 34
1 Corinthians 6:12-20