UNFORTUNATELY, LIKE THE INHABITANTS OF GADARENES, WE HAVE ALSO ASKED JESUS TO LEAVE OUR LIVES AT ONE POINT IN TIME
First Reading: Amos 5:14-15,21-24
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 49(50):7-13,16-17
Gospel Reading: Matthew 8:28-34
Inasmuch as the Church upholds the doctrine of “man’s desire for God” and that this “desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God” (CCC #27); the Church also understands that “this ‘intimate and vital bond of man to God’ can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man” (CCC #29, GS 19 § 1). The appeal of the inhabitants of Gadarenes, asking Christ to leave their land in today’s Gospel reading as a result of his good deeds reflects this sentiment of man overlooking and rejecting God, choosing evil over good; as a result, the first reading comes in to admonish us against such attitude.
When asked about the bone of contention in the gospel reading as to why Christ was rejected, it would sound very sad to note that it was as a result of Christ’s deliverance of the demoniacs from the pangs of the demons, casting the demons into the swine, which made the whole herd charge down the cliff into the lake and perished in the water. Even with this kind of loss, the positive dimension (healing of the demoniacs) would have been considered and appreciated, since it concerns human life; but the people apparently considered animal life as more important, and as a result, they pleaded with Christ to leave their territory.
Many of us may think that they would not have made the same mistake of the inhabitants of Gadarenes by rejecting or expelling Christ from their territory, but unfortunately, ‘our’ way of life and conducts are quite repulsive to the Spirit of Christ. There are various ways we can show Christ the exit door. We can expel Christ from our lives when we prefer evil to good. We can expel Christ from our lives when we value the lives of animals and fail to recognize the dignity of human life. We tend to reject Christ when we fail to embrace the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. We can reject Christ when we fail to read the Word of God and devout time to prayers. We can reject Christ when people “can’t breathe” under our jurisdiction; the list is endless. As a result, the first reading serves to admonish us to choose good over evil: “Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and that the Lord, God of Hosts, may really be with you as you claim he is.” Needless to say, it is only when we do good that the Lord remains with us.
Unfortunately, we live in an era where animal life is valued more than human life. One could go to jail for killing a dog or charged for killing some animals but ‘nobody’ seems to raise an eyebrow against the evil of abortion or human deaths caused by racism. A society where the life of cows is more cherished and cared for than human life. This is a sure way of expelling God out of our lives. Dear friends in Christ, if we want the presence of God to last in our lives, we have the responsibility of loving God above all other things and also our fellowmen for God’s sake. For the many times that we have shown Christ the exit door of our lives, homes, society, world, etc., through our conducts, we implore God’s mercy and utilize this moment as an opportunity to welcome Him back into our lives by a life of prayer, frequenting the Sacraments, and living out the gospel values of love, justice, peace, etc.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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