As we begin a new education year today, it is interesting that the readings of the day provide significant guidance. The first reading (from 2 Samuel 15-16) provides the odd description of David discovering that his son Absolom has now won over the majority of the people and was gathering troops against the King – so David flees in sadness to avoid a bloodbath in the city of Jerusalem. While on his way on the Mount of Olives, a member of Saul’s clan comes out and begins to curse him and throw stones at him. Charming behaviour! But rather than allowing one of his soldiers to kill Shimei, David takes the criticism and cursing as being from the Lord. Very noble.
In the Gospel (Mark 5) we have the powerful story of Jesus arriving on the south-eastern shore of the Sea in pagan territory and being greeted by a demon-possessed man. He is so deranged that he spends his life (day and night) without clothes, howling and cutting himself with stones. Jesus begins to free the man, while the demons protest. When asked to identify itself, the demon names itself as Legion “for there are many of us.” It could be a reference to the presence in that land of the Tenth Legion (which has the Boar as its emblem). A Roman Legion contained between 2000 and 4000 soldiers. The presence of Jesus in this pagan land is still bringing cleansing to the land by bringing dehumanised people to freedom. When the now clothed and calm man asks Jesus to follow him, Jesus tells him instead to stay in his local community and be a witness there to the mighty works of God.
Monday in Week 4, Year II.