Today’s Gospel passage is one that has always struck me as perhaps saying more than is immediately visible on the surface. Christ drives demons out of people and into a herd of swine, which are then drown. The swineherds run to town and tell of the drowned pigs — an animal unclean to the Jews, indicating that the people of this town are Gentiles — and of the rescue of the violent demoniacs. And then the people of Gadarenes come out not to thank Jesus… not to welcome Him into their town… but to beg Him to leave the area.
Now, I could understand the owners of the herd being upset, at least initially, at the loss of their valuable property. But why would the entire town come out and ask Jesus to leave? What did they have in their town that they didn’t want Jesus to see? Were they afraid of what they must have considered to be a Jewish miracle-worker? Or did they perhaps understand that Christ was more than a mere worker of miracles and that His very presence called them to conversion of heart and of life?
Perhaps more importantly, how alike are we today to the people of Gadarenes? If the Lord comes to us, is our society more likely to embrace Him or to ask Him to move along and not make a scene?
We are all called to conversion, both individually and as a society, because our faith has both a personal and a social element. It is a very good thing to have a personal relationship with Christ; however, it would be a mistake to conclude that is all we are called to have. We are also called to work for the transformation of our society — we are called to be the leaven that leavens the whole loaf.
Even when society seems to have lost its way and we see our friends and perhaps even family members celebrating that in society which is counter to the Gospel, we are called to be the voices of reason in an age of unreason. Let us pray for the grace to speak the truth and speak it with kindness and courage, and to live the truth so that by our example others may come to know the source of all truth, Christ Himself… for that is how Christ desires that we transform the world.