READINGOld Testament: Genesis 43:16-34
Psalms: Psalms 75, 76, 23, 27
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 7:10-24
Gospel: Mark 5:1-20
Evening Psalms: 23,27
DEVOTIONALToday’s gospel passage (Mark 5:1-20) was so inspiring to me because of my passion for psychology and mental health. I learned from my studies in college that humans used to attribute a lot of mental illness behaviors to demon possession. Now, with all of our advances in science and medicine, we are led to believe that a lot of these documented cases of demon possession were actually outbursts of mental illness left untreated. But when I read this particular passage from Mark, I wasn’t concerned about whether or not the man was truly “possessed” or whether he was just experiencing a mental health crisis. I was focused on how Jesus was treating the man with the affliction.
In this day and age, a man who would force his bonds, cry out day and night, and cut himself with rocks and stones would surely be considered someone who is mentally ill. Most likely, we would seek to subdue that person using medicine. We would house him in a psychiatric facility, restrict his rights and responsibilities, and even limit his ability to interact with other human beings. We would be treating the illness at the possible expense of the person inside, because that is the best that we know how to do.
However, when I read this passage, I couldn't help but imagine Jesus bending down on his haunches, looking the man in the eyes, and gently asking him his name. I imagine Him looking past the crying out and the violence that this man was displaying. Even though all others in the village treated him with fear and avoidance, I believe that Jesus would see the man for who he truly was -- and He would care for him and show him mercy.
I think there is a lot I can learn from Jesus’ response to the sick man. No, we are not all qualified to heal the illnesses of our brothers and sisters. But when I think about this passage, I don’t think about Jesus expelling the demons as the moral of the story here. I think about the way Jesus treated an outcast of society, and leading by example for all the other people in the village.
Heavenly Father, help me follow Jesus' lead and always see others for who they truly are; help me care for them and show them love and mercy, despite any illness or demons that may afflict them. Amen.