måndag 30 januari 2012

A disturbing story - my name is Legion

Today's mass readings were taken from Mark 5

1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Ger’asenes.
2 And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
3 who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain;
4 for he had often been bound with fetters and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him.
5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him;
7 and crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
8 For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”
10 And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country.
11 Now a great herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside;
12 and they begged him, “Send us to the swine, let us enter them.”
13 So he gave them leave. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.

The demoniac in the story seems to have been suffering from what, in modern parlance, would be diagnosed as multiple personality disorder. Pigs are of course an unclean animal but the idea of 2000 drowned pigs floating in the sea of Galilee is to say the least unpleasant. What is the meaning of this story?

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