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The Everyday Prayer

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

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 shows the boat of the disciples reaching the other side, after a difficult crossing. Now Jesus and his friends are in pagan territory. It is the first time that Jesus crosses the boundaries within which he had worked so far. While today many new boundaries are raised - national and ethnic - the Gospel once again speaks to us of universality. Despite living in a small world, for Jesus there are no boundaries. The boundaries, in fact, before being written, are fixed in our minds. We are the ones who decide where to put up barriers between ourselves and others, between one side and another, between one people and another. It is primarily within us that we should abolish borders. And Jesus shows this to the disciples from the very beginning. The demoniac who comes to Jesus is a symbol of the many divisions that form between men and that divide them from each other. This man, a slave to a legion of demons, is forced to live among the tombs, separated even from his own countrymen. It is the solitude in which we fall whenever we raise walls of division. Not by chance, in Greek “devil” means “division.” Evil divides, it wants everyone to live by themselves, it wants everyone to create their own world of individualism, well separated and distinct from that of others. For this reason, the individualistic culture of our world is just the opposite of the people that Jesus came to bring to unity. Jesus landed on this shore and he freed that man from the bondage of a legion of demons, which forced him to loneliness and tormented him. The considerable number of “evil spirits “ that possess this man is to mean the many bonds that enslave people of our contemporary cities, and also the power of evil, from which is difficult to free ourselves without any help. This Gerasene demoniac, despised and dismissed by everyone, but not by Jesus, is freed from the bonds of evil spirits which then plunge into the sea ruinously. And although he is not part of the group of disciples who follow Jesus, he too receives the task of proclaiming the Gospel and God’s mercy.

Prayer for the Sick