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A team of 200 priests comment on daily Gospel

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Liturgical day: Monday 4th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (2Sam 15:13-14.30; 16:5-13a): An informant came to David with the report, «The children of Israel have transferred their loyalty to Absalom». At this, David said to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem: «Up! Let us take flight, or none of us will escape from Absalom. Leave quickly, lest he hurry and overtake us, then visit disaster upon us and put the city to the sword».

As David went up the Mount of Olives, he wept without ceasing. His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot. All those who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went. As David was approaching Bahurim, a man named Shimei, the son of Gera of the same clan as Saul’s family, was coming out of the place, cursing as he came. He threw stones at David and at all the king’s officers, even though all the soldiers, including the royal guard, were on David’s right and on his left. Shimei was saying as he cursed: «Away, away, you murderous and wicked man! The Lord has requited you for all the bloodshed in the family of Saul, in whose stead you became king, and the Lord has given over the kingdom to your son Absalom. And now you suffer ruin because you are a murderer». Abishai, son of Zeruiah, said to the king: «Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, please, and lop off his head».

But the king replied: «What business is it of mine or of yours, sons of Zeruiah, that he curses? Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David; who then will dare to say, ‘Why are you doing this?’». Then the king said to Abishai and to all his servants: «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. Perhaps the Lord will look upon my affliction and make it up to me with benefits for the curses he is uttering this day». David and his men continued on the road, while Shimei kept abreast of them on the hillside, all the while cursing and throwing stones and dirt as he went.
Responsorial Psalm: 3
R/. Lord, rise up and save me.
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».

But you, o Lord, are my shield; my glory, you lift up my head! When I call out to the Lord, he answers me from his holy mountain.

When I lie down in sleep, I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. I fear not the myriads of people arrayed against me on every side.
Versicle before the Gospel (Lk 7:16): Alleluia. A great prophet has arisen in our midst and God has visited his people. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Mk 5,1-20): Jesus and his disciples arrived on the other side of the lake in the region of the Gerasenes. No sooner did Jesus leave the boat than He was met by a man with evil spirits who had come from the tombs. He lived among the tombs and no one could restrain him, even with a chain. He had often been bound with fetters and chains but he would pull the chains apart and smash the fetters, and no one had the strength to control him. Night and day he stayed among the tombs on the hillsides, and was continually screaming and beating himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell at his feet and cried with a loud voice, «What do you want with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? For God's sake I beg you, do not torment me». He said this because Jesus had commanded, «Come out of the man, evil spirit». And when Jesus asked him, «What is your name?», he replied, «Legion is my name, for we are many». And all of them kept begging Jesus not to send them out of that region.

Now, a great herd of pigs was feeding on the hillside, and the evil spirits begged him, «Send us to the pigs and let us go into them». So Jesus let them go. The evil spirits came out of the man and went into the pigs, and immediately the herd rushed down the cliff and all were drowned in the lake. The herdsmen fled and reported this in the town and in the countryside, so all the people came to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the man freed of the evil spirits sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the same man who had been possessed by the legion. They were afraid. And when those who had seen it told what had happened to the man and to the pigs, the people begged Jesus to leave their neighborhood.

When Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed begged to stay with him. Jesus would not let him and said, «Go home to your people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you». So he went throughout the country of Decapolis telling everyone how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were astonished.

«Come out of the man, evil spirit»

Fr. Ramon Octavi SÁNCHEZ i Valero
(Viladecans, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we find a fragment of the Gospel that might induce someone to smile. Imagining a herd of some two thousand pigs rushing down a cliff and into a lake, is a sort of funny image. But the truth is that those herdsmen did not find any fun in what had happened; they were very angry and begged Jesus to leave their neighborhood immediately.

While the herdsmen's attitude may seem logical, it is actually quite admonishing: for they would have undoubtedly preferred to save their pigs rather than have that demonized man delivered from his evil spirits. That is, first the material goods, which bring us money and ease, instead of a dignified life for a man who does not belong “to our class”. Because the man possessed by the evil spirit was nothing but a person that «night and day stayed among the tombs on the hillsides, and was continually screaming and beating himself with stones» (Mk 5:5).

Quite often we run the risk to cling to what we own and infuriate when we lose whatever material possessions we may have. Thus, we have the farmer despairing when he loses his crop, even if fully insured or the stock market investor who angers if his shares go down. On the other hand, few are those who actually anguish when they see millions of human beings, many of which may live next to us, living in extreme poverty or dying of hunger.

Jesus always placed persons before anything else, even before the law and the powerful people of his time. But, just too often, we only think of us and of what we believe may bring us some happiness, despite the fact that selfishness never has brought any happiness to anyone. As the Brazilian Bishop Dom Helder Cámara would say: «Selfishness is the deepest root of all unhappiness. Your own and that of the whole world».