Reflection on Mark 5.1-20

The man with the unclean spirit said: What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?

We all like our privacy. We turn our homes into fortresses that cannot be easily penetrated by prying eyes and ears. When we go on holiday we seek seclusion. When we go to the shops we are irritated by those who ‘might’ be showing a casual interest in the purchases we are making. We all like our privacy. We can all identify with the man with the unclean spirit who cries out: What have you to do with me?

As we build higher and thicker walls around ourselves and those closest to us we also exclude ourselves from so much. The man in today’s reading, the one who was possessed by so many demons, manifests himself in those who seek to isolate themselves from the society in which they live. The man with the unclean spirit asked Jesus: What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Our first steps along that path begin with the raising of the walls, the shutting of the curtains and the blinds and, ultimately, with the closing down of meaningful interaction with family, friends and neighbours. Our obsession with ‘privacy’ takes us out of society, out of the community we are called to love and serve in Christ’s name.

Each of us has a ‘private’ life we would not wish to share with others. That ‘private’ life is often described as our catalogue of ‘guilty secrets’, things which would leave us feeling embarrassed and ashamed if they became public knowledge. But … Jesus tells us that nothing is hidden or secret to God; God knows all that is in our hearts and minds, and he invites us to step away from the sinful into a new life, a new life which brings us into a closer relationship with him.

Of course, we do not feel comfortable sharing the most intimate details of our lives with our friends and neighbours, but we should not feel so isolationist when it comes to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. 

Today we are being encouraged to adopt a new way of approaching life, a way that will bring us joy and peace we cannot imagine from behind our barriers of privacy. We are called to allow God to exorcise our demons and allow us to live the life he has given us without the unnecessary limitations we impose upon ourselves. We are called to expel the demons from our lives and live the life of true faith.