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.
Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes.
When he got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs,
and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
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.
Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides
he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before him,
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!”
(He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”)
He asked him, “What is your name?”
He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.”
And he pleaded earnestly with him
not to drive them away from that territory.
Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.
And they pleaded with him,
“Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.”
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.
The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town
and throughout the countryside.
And people came out to see what had happened.
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.
Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened
to the possessed man and to the swine.
Then they began to beg him to leave their district.
As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
But Jesus 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.”
Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.
I. THEME: Hardship challenges one’s faith.
Human life is a battlefield to fight against three dangerous enemies: the devil, the world and one’s own flesh. To overcome these three enemies, one needs to have a firm faith in God. To have a firm faith, one needs to have sufferings and hardships, beginning with small ones and gradually to big ones. If one has to face big hardship from the beginning, he shall fail right away.
Today readings emphasize the need for one’s faith to be tested. In the first reading, David must face many hardships in his family and nation after he committed sins against Uriah and his wife; but he persevered in his faith. He hoped that God shall show His compassion to him and forgive his sins. In the Gospel, Jesus healed a man who was completely controlled by powers of unclean spirits. After was healed, the man wanted to become Jesus’ disciple; but Jesus commanded him to remain with his local family to tell his neighbors what Jesus has done for him.
1/ Reading I: David was persecuted by Absalom, his own son; and cursed by Shimei, an unknown man from the tribe of Benjamine.
1.1/ David’s sufferings: The Oriental tradition believes the following order in governing: first, to train oneself; secondly, to lead one’s family; thirdly, to govern one’s nation; and lastly, to bring peace for all people. If a man can’t control himself, he can’t lead his family or nation. David’s case is one example of this progress.
(1) David couldn’t control his sexual desire: In a weak moment, David was overcome by his desire and committed adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. From this sin, David was led to murder by issuing a command to send Uriah to a hot battle without armies to back him up; and Uriah was killed in that battle. All of David’s actions couldn’t be hidden from God, He sent the prophet Nathan to accuse David of these sins. David confessed his sins to God and asked for forgiveness. God forgave David’s sins; but he must endure all punishments.
(2) David couldn’t control his family: David couldn’t rightly judge when Amnon raped Tamar, his half sister and Absalom’s younger sister. When Absalom saw that David didn’t do anything, he took the matter in his own hand and killed Amnon. From that moment, the conflict between David and Absalom became serious. In today passage, David must run away from Absalom because people’s hearts were with him.
(3) David couldn’t govern the nation: The family conflict led to the country disorder. David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee; or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom; go in haste, lest he overtake us quickly, and bring down evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.” Then, David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered; and all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went.
1.2/ Only David knew the reason of his sufferings.
(1) King David was cursed by Shimei: During David’s flee to Bahurim, there was a person named Shimei, the son of Gera; and as he came he cursed continually. And he threw stones at David, and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And Shimei cursed David, “Begone, begone, you man of blood, you worthless fellow! The Lord has avenged upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your ruin is on you; for you are a man of blood.”
(2) David knew God’s hand is upon all these things: Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, `Curse David,’ who then shall say, `Why have you done so?'” And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look upon my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for this cursing of me today.”
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 any more, 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 swines 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 swines more than the value of a human life. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Faith is priceless gift which God bestows on us to fight against three dangerous enemies. If we don’t have faith, we can’t fight against them.
– To have a firm faith, we must train ourselves. Hardships and sufferings are necessary to help us to train. If we can’t overcome small ones, we will be buried in the big ones.
– Sin brings bad results not only for the sinner, but also for his family, community, and nation.