29 On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. 31 He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. 32 When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. 33 The whole town was gathered at the door. 34 He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. 35 Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and those who were with him pursued him 37 and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” 39 So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
The second, longest, and most complex of this Gospel’s narrated exorcisms, Mark 5:1-20 is a tale of terror. Jesus encounters a demoniac who horrifies his neighbors by howling among tombs commandeered by diabolical powers that provoke him to appalling self-abuse. The man is impossible to restrain.
To the original hearers of the account, the story screams religious impurity because of its contact with corpses. The original hears probably heard the echo of Isaiah (65:4) describing the rebellious, stubborn nation of Israel as people who inhabit tombs and eat swine’s flesh. And then there is the demonic possession. Which in itself is bad, but again, the original listeners, when they hear the name “Legion” (Mark 5:9), pile on their revulsion at the memory of their suffering and trauma at the hands of imperial soldiers. The man is menaced and menacing. Who could come near? What cure is possible?
My Franciscan brother, Fr. Casey Cole OFM, is a prolific producer of videos, blogs, podcasts, and all manner of digital evangelization. He has a YouTube channel, his long-time blog “Breaking in the Habit“, a podcast (Everyday Liminality), Facebook page, and more – he even has a wikipedia page!
This morning, I came across one of his new videos that I wanted to share with you – as Fr. Casey says – make sure you have 18 minutes of your life that you will never get back! If you like trivia – this video is for you. Enjoy.
Fr. Casey serves the parishioners of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Macon, GA