Mk 5:1-20 Unclean Spirits

Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes.  When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.  The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead Sunday of an apparent drug overdose.  He was 46.  In a statement, Hoffman’s family asked for people to keep the actor “in your thoughts and prayers.”  

I took a liking to the Oscar-award winning actor when I found out he was born in Fairport, New York, a few miles southeast from where I was born and raised. His love for acting began when he was young.  His mother would often take him to the theatre and in his Oscar acceptance speech he thanked her and his three siblings for raising him (his parents divorced when he was only nine-years-old).  

Philip’s tragic death may have come as a shock to many, but throughout his life, the actor battled one addiction after another:  first alcohol, then only recently heroin.

The man with unclean spirits.  In today’s Gospel passage we read about a man with an unclean spirit.  His condition is appalling!   He walks among the tombs.  He cannot be restrained.  He pull his chains apart and smash shackles with his bare hands.  He even bruises (hurts) himself with stones.  He lives alone and in the darkness of the night.  He has become the slave of a certain unclean spirit:  Legion.

Philip Hoffman was found dead, alone in his bathroom, with a needle in his arm and over twenty used needles in a plastic container.  He had over 50 packets of heroin in his room, along with mind altering drugs to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety and ADD.  To me there is not much difference between Philip’s sad story and the man who lived among the dead.

What is clear to me is that all the money in the world could not solve their problem.  All the fame and attention from the world could not tackle or arrest their problem.  Somehow, someway, these two men allowed an “unclean spirit” to enter them; overpower them; possess them and eventually own them and destroy them.

Love God above all things.  Today, let us keep in our prayers those who are struggling with addictions.  Let us pray for them and for one another.  Let us resolve to love God above all things, including ourselves. (0)

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Fr. Alfonse (1044 Posts)

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