Podcast Reflections

Reflection on Mark 5.1-20 (Epiphany Season)

Listen to a reflection for 30 January on Mark 5.1-20 (Epiphany 4 / DEL Week 4: Monday)

Mark 5.1-20

Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the lake, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’ For he had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 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.’ So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned in the lake. 

The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighbourhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed. 


The man with the unclean spirit said: What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?

We all like our privacy. We turn our homes into fortresses that cannot be easily penetrated by prying eyes and ears. When we go on holiday we seek seclusion. When we go to the shops we are irritated by those who ‘might’ be showing a casual interest in the purchases we are making. We all like our privacy. We can all identify with the man with the unclean spirit who cries out: What have you to do with me?

As we build higher and thicker walls around ourselves and those closest to us we also exclude ourselves from so much. The man in today’s reading, the one who was possessed by so many demons, manifests himself in those who seek to isolate themselves from the society in which they live. The man with the unclean spirit asked Jesus: What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Our first steps along that path begin with the raising of the walls, the shutting of the curtains and the blinds and, ultimately, with the closing down of meaningful interaction with family, friends and neighbours. Our obsession with ‘privacy’ takes us out of society, out of the community we are called to love and serve in Christ’s name.

Each of us has a ‘private’ life we would not wish to share with others. That ‘private’ life is often described as our catalogue of ‘guilty secrets’, things which would leave us feeling embarrassed and ashamed if they became public knowledge. But … Jesus tells us that nothing is hidden or secret to God; God knows all that is in our hearts and minds, and he invites us to step away from the sinful into a new life, a new life which brings us into a closer relationship with him.

Of course, we do not feel comfortable sharing the most intimate details of our lives with our friends and neighbours, but we should not feel so isolationist when it comes to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. 

Today we are being encouraged to adopt a new way of approaching life, a way that will bring us joy and peace we cannot imagine from behind our barriers of privacy. We are called to allow God to exorcise our demons and allow us to live the life he has given us without the unnecessary limitations we impose upon ourselves. We are called to expel the demons from our lives and live the life of true faith.