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Monday – Fourth Week – OT1
Readings: Heb 11:32-40; Mk 5:1-20.
1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 11:32 What more shall I say? I have not time to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises; they closed the mouths of lions, 34 put out raging fires, escaped the devouring sword; out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle, and turned back foreign invaders. 35 Women received back their dead through resurrection. Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection. 36 Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword’s point; they went about in skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, tormented. 38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and on mountains, in caves and in crevices in the earth. 39 Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised. 40 God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect.
2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 5:1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasene. 2 When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him. 3 The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain. 4 In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. 6 Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him, 7 crying out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!” 8 (He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”) 9 He asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.” 10 And he pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory. 11 Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside. 12 And they pleaded with him, “Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.” 13 And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned. 14 The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside. And people came out to see what had happened. 15 As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind. And they were seized with fear. 16 Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine. 17 Then they began to beg him to leave their district. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. 19 But he would not permit him but told him instead, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” 20 Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.
Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P.
I. THEME: Sufferings test our faith.
Human life is a battle against the three enemies: the devil, the world and one’s flesh. To win over these three enemies, people need to train in order to have a firm faith in God. To train faith, people need trials and sufferings, beginning with lesser and gradually to greater ones. If people must face the greater one from the beginning, they shall fail right away.
Today readings emphasize on the testing of one’s faith. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews invited people to look back to the Israel’s history to learn from the courageous examples of the witnesses of faith. They, at first, are also weak, sinful and fearful human beings; but by training to have a firm faith in God, they overcome all trials and sufferings of their life. In the Gospel, a person who was completely controlled by the devil’s power was healed by Jesus. After was liberated, he wanted to be Jesus’ disciple; but he commanded him to remain at his local place and to proclaim for people to know what God has done for him.
1/ Reading I: Faith helps people to overcome all trials.
1.1/ The faith of the historical witnesses: To help the faithful to have a firm faith in God, the author invited them to look at the examples of faith of the historical witnesses, such as: Gideon, Barak, Sampson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the all the prophets. The life of Gideon, Barak, Sampson and Jephthah can be found in the Book of Judges; and the life of king David and the prophet Samuel can be found in the Book of kings. Though they are also weak and sinful as all people; but by their faith in God, they “conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises; they closed the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped the devouring sword; out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle, and turned back foreign invaders.”
1.2/ Sufferings test people’s faith: They overcame many trials and sufferings, as the author mentioned: “Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword’s point; they went about in skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, tormented. The world was not worthy of them.”
1.3/ We are shared in their glory: “Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised. God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect.” The author wanted to say that all these historical persons built up an inheritance of faith for us. Through them, our faith is nourished because they urge us to overcome all trials and sufferings of our life. These people didn’t aim at the worldly glory, they expect a better glory which God prepares for them in heaven.
2/ Gospel: Jesus liberated one person from being slavery for unclean spirits.
2.1/ The man who was possessed by unclean spirits lived among the tombs: Gerasenes is Kursi today, located on the other side of Galilee. This area is very stony; therefore, it is good for burying the dead. Today, there are many traces of the tombs. As mentioned before, cemeteries are places of demons and dark is the time of their activities. When Jesus had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who lived among the tombs. Mark described this man as follows: “No one could bind him anymore, even with a chain; for he had often been bound with fetters and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters 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 crying out, and bruising himself with stones.”
2.2/ Jesus faced the power of devil: Jesus’ conversation with the man showed us the power of devil upon men. There was a time when the man called himself in the first person, singular: “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” There was time he called himself in the first person, plural: “My name is Legion; for we are many.” A Roman legion has about 6,000 soldiers. This shows a man may be possessed by many devils. The devil’s request to enter a herd of swine which was about 2,000 confirmed what we said.
2.3/ Jesus faced the power of the world: With such a miracle, we expect the people of that village will be joyful and invite Jesus to stay with them; but their reaction was completely opposite. They didn’t want to change because they were so used with devils. Mark reported: “They came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine.” Instead of fearing the one who has power over the devil, they were afraid of the devil! Moreover, they valued a herd of swine more than the value of a human life. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood.
2.4/ The demoniac’s reaction: Since he was liberated from the devil’s power and found his lost faith, he begged Jesus so that he can follow him; but Jesus told him, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all people were amazed.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Faith is the most precious gift from God to us for fighting against the three enemies. Without faith, we can’t stand trials and sufferings in our life.
– In order to possess a firm faith, we need to practice. Sufferings and trials help us to practice our faith.
– We need to train our faith daily by overcoming lesser trials and sufferings. If we don’t practice, we can’t face greater trials and sufferings which shall come later in our life.