In today’s Gospel we witness the freedom Jesus brings to the possessed man who lived among the tombs, a frightening and violent man who was kept outside the community in the places of the dead.
I wonder what the man dwelling among the tombs with an unclean spirit experienced on the “inside.” We know how other people experienced him: he was a scary, out-of-control, possessed, and violent man. As I prayed with this passage, however, I entered within this unsubdued man bound with chains and shackles. What was it like to be this man? What did he feel? Desire? Fear?
I sensed that this person, deep within his spirit, could have felt shame, abandoned, powerless, hopeless, rejected as he dwelt away from the community, possessed by thousands of demons. (The name “Legion” refers to a Roman regiment of six thousand soldiers.)
Perhaps his heart was crying out, “Even though I’m screaming, no one hears ME. Even though people see me crying out and bruising myself with stones, no one sees ME.”
Sometimes I feel this way.
When life throws me unexpected detours shot through with loss and grief, my response can be public, embarrassing, insecure, out of character. I feel shame as people see my problems, mistakes, tears, reactions.
Yet at these times I too cry out from the deepest places of my heart, “No one sees ME.”
They hear my attempts to understand, analyze, and fix.
Responses such as, “I heard you already,” “You can’t do it,” “You’re too identified with your role,” “You’re out of the picture now,” can leave any of us crying out as the man who gashed himself with stones on the mountainside, ostracized from the community, our hearts broken open with the longing to be seen and heard and touched with gentle reverence.
In this Gospel reading, it is clear that Jesus saw this man. Jesus saw the external behavior that so frightened everyone who knew about this man. He also, though, could hold in his vision the heart and soul of this man created by his Father, this Beloved of his Heart. Jesus saw him. Jesus knew him. Jesus restored him to wholeness and truth. Jesus returned him to the community.
Jesus sees your deepest reality, your greatest suffering, your desperate need.
Jesus knows your true self and can understand and heal the parts of you that still cry out for wholeness and truth.
When we see ourselves and others in this beautiful and gracious way, we too can bring wholeness and truth to others and ourselves in the midst of any suffering.
Image Credit: Luis Ca from Pixabay