Mar 5:1-2 “They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.”
This describes many days at my former place of employment. My guess is that the same thing happens to you from time to time. Perhaps this isn’t a literal occurrence but you’ve met men and women just like this.
For several years I worked in an office where my job was to talk to thousands of people who wanted to sue their doctor, their hospital, their veterinarian, their neighbor, their brother, their girlfriend, boyfriend, aunt, uncle…the list was endless. In truth, some of these people have a real beef. They really do. They were wronged by an action. Their life will never be the same again because of someone’s thoughtless deed. Some of these folks will never walk again because of a surgeon’s scalpel. Some of these callers will live in pain until the day they die because the other driver ignored the red light. I understand these calls. I get their story.
But every once in a while, actually, on a daily basis, I received a call from someone who is filled with an unclean spirit. They were overflowing with venom. They slithered to the phone and outlined a vile plan of vengeance. They whispered hateful words. They uttered threats of violence. They demanded justice for nothing more than a flesh wound or a hurt feeling.
These are the people who walk our streets and share our elevators. They are the neighbors who get their mail at the end of the day and wave hello from across the street. They seem normal enough but when you really take a closer look, you see the insanity in their eyes.
If you read the rest of Mark’s story, Jesus, who earlier has been ordering the demons to leave this man, finally gives them permission to go their own way. And here’s my point: He doesn’t accuse the man. He doesn’t blame him for his anti-social behavior. Jesus recognizes that the thing that controls this poor being is, in fact beyond his control. This man is stuck with demons that control him.
Jesus does not condemn the man. He sets him free.
Jesus does not sentence him for his wild behavior. He silences the source of his pain.
The creator of the universe looks this troubled soul in the eye, releases him from his bonds, and puts him back on the road to sanity.
Like the people from the surrounding country-side, I’ve so often relegated these callers, neighbors or strangers to the caves of their own creating. But occasionally, compassion guides my heart and I stop to listen to their pain. I offer a word of hope. I sooth their sole with balm and in the end, I entrust their lives to God’s love and care.