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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memory of Modesta, a homeless woman refused medical assistance because she was dirty and was left to die in the Termini train station in Rome. Along with her we remember all those without a home who have died.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 5, 1-20

They reached the territory of the Gerasenes on the other side of the lake,

and when he disembarked, a man with an unclean spirit at once came out from the tombs towards him.

The man lived in the tombs and no one could secure him any more, even with a chain,

because he had often been secured with fetters and chains but had snapped the chains and broken the fetters, and no one had the strength to control him.

All night and all day, among the tombs and in the mountains, he would howl and gash himself with stones.

Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and fell at his feet

and shouted at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? In God's name do not torture me!'

For Jesus had been saying to him, 'Come out of the man, unclean spirit.'

Then he asked, 'What is your name?' He answered, 'My name is Legion, for there are many of us.'

And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the district.

Now on the mountainside there was a great herd of pigs feeding,

and the unclean spirits begged him, 'Send us to the pigs, let us go into them.'

So he gave them leave. With that, the unclean spirits came out and went into the pigs, and the herd of about two thousand pigs charged down the cliff into the lake, and there they were drowned.

The men looking after them ran off and told their story in the city and in the country round about; and the people came to see what had really happened.

They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there -- the man who had had the legion in him -- properly dressed and in his full senses, and they were afraid.

And those who had witnessed it reported what had happened to the demoniac and what had become of the pigs.

Then they began to implore Jesus to leave their neighbourhood.

As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed begged to be allowed to stay with him.

Jesus would not let him but said to him, 'Go home to your people and tell them all that the Lord in his mercy has done for you.'

So the man went off and proceeded to proclaim in the Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him. And everyone was amazed.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today’s Gospel passage shows the disciples’ boat on "the other side of the lake" after a difficult crossing. Now Jesus and his followers are in pagan territory, in the vicinity of the city of Gerasa, some what distant from their landing. This is the first time Jesus crosses the boundaries within which he has been working. While in our day many frontiers are being erected - both national and ethnic - the Gospel comes back to talk to us about universality. In fact, before being inscribed outside of us, boundaries are first fixed in our minds. We are the ones, in fact, who decide where to raise barriers between one part and the other, between one people and another. This is why it is inside of us that boundaries need to be eliminated and a universal vision needs to be established. Jesus has been showing this universal sensitivity to his disciples since the very beginning. In the Gerasene territory there were tombs dug in the rock. A demoniac comes out from one of them that he had transformed in to his dwelling. Seeing that group of people the demoniac gets closer. The loneliness of this man forced to live in a cave is a symbol of the many distances that are created between people and that separate them from each other, especially in the large contemporaneous megalopolis. How many young people are overwhelmed by the demons of violence in the outskirts of these cities! Like the demoniac, they are forced to live as if they are living among the tombs; they are dead to life even before they have lived it. Sometimes they commit the violence that they have inflicted on themselves. Exactly like the poor man in the Gospel story. Loneliness becomes like a cave that swallows, that does not allow one to see oneself and even less can one see a future of peace and serenity. Jesus lands on this shore as he lands on the shores of the outskirts of our large cities. It is the experience of the Christian communities that live and witness the Gospel of love in places that are at times as dramatic as this one. The man, who represents all of them, runs towards Jesus and cries out a curse that sounds more like an indirect prayer. Jesus welcomes him; he calls him and frees him from the slavery of a legion of demons. The remarkable number of "unclean spirits" that possess this man symbolize the many forms of slavery that torment the men and women of our world. Let us think especially of the youth! This demoniac from Gerasa, despised and driven away by all but not by Jesus, is freed. The evil spirits, overwhelmed by love, fall ruinously into the sea. In the end, even this man receives the marvellous task of announcing the Gospel and God’s mercy, even though he does not belong to the group of disciples who follow Jesus.

Memory of the Poor