Not Ready to Welcome Christ

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The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Edwin Fernandez SVD — Divine Word College of Laoag, Laoag City

Monday 4th Week in Ordinary Time

Image: Wikimedia Commons, Holy Redeemer Catholic Church (Portsmouth, Ohio)

When I was working in a parish in Osorno, Chile, back in 1998, I was once earnestly requested by a family to go and bless their house. They complained of feeling the presence of bad spirits among them. They could not explain, for example, the frequent conflicts within their family.

When I arrived at the place, I noticed that their house was quite dark and eerie. I felt a bit strange when I went around blessing the place. Before I left, I told the family not to fear but to center their lives in God by frequently praying together.

Our Gospel reading today presents Jesus’ encounter with a man who was possessed by Legion (the evil spirits’ name). The first thing we find remarkable in Jesus is his fearlessness. He came to a territory and had to face a situation which was truly scary and dangerous. But Jesus, moved by deep compassion, knew how much the man and his family had suffered and wanted his cruel oppression to finally come to an end. And so it happened! But this at the price of a large herd of swine getting drowned as Jesus allowed the evil spirits to enter them.

Such happening negatively affected Jesus’ mission in the said territory, as its inhabitants decided to beg him to leave their place. It is so sad to note that they were incapable of perceiving the good news he was bringing to them.

They were not willing to recognize the dawning of a new life brought by Jesus in their midst. Instead of rejoicing that a possessed man was definitively free and restored to his right mind, they preferred to overvalue their swine and to continue living in the dark comforts of their fears.

They seem to have gotten accustomed to the darkness that surrounded and possessed their hearts. The light that Jesus was revealing to them was too uncomfortable. They were not ready to allow him to suddenly challenge their values, change their lives, and bring them more painful losses.

As we welcome Jesus into the territory of our lives, are willing to incur painful losses so that he can free us from those spirits that hinder our growth towards the fullness of life and love? “Jesus, we fully trust in you. We beg you to stay with us, for only in you will we truly be free. Amen.”

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