FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
TRANSFORMATION IN CHRIST
February 1, 2016
Today’s gospel: Mark 5:1-20
Today’s gospel about the healing of the Gerasene demoniac teaches us a lot about the realities with regard to the work of the New Evangelization. One most important truth is that we are into spiritual warfare and demons and their works are realities. These demons are actively at work in the lives of people today. And they are numerous. “Legion is my name. There are many of us.” (v.9b). This has a number of dire consequences on people’s lives.
First, a tsunami of evil is upon us, and we truly are being suffocated. Even as we resist evil, we will be engaging a powerful enemy and the battle will always be uphill. At times, when we face Satan, and his human hordes, it would seem as if “no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain …. and no one was strong enough to subdue him.” (v.3b,4c). But know that Jesus has already subdued and defeated him.
Second, when one has “an unclean spirit” (v.2), he is obviously in a very bad situation. He hurts himself with the bad things he does. “Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.” (v.5). And oftentimes he cannot help himself, nor get out of his dire situation. We must be the ones, as we see their grave situation, who will do something about it.
Third, many who are under demonic influence or even possession are firmly in the grip of the evil one, and are prone to reject the help that God can give them. “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!” (v.7). We need to persist and endure in the work.
Fourth, since the reality is that the whole world is under the dominion of the evil one, they will not give up their territory without a great fight. “And he pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory.” (v.10). Then you can understand why the work of evangelization is so difficult and challenging. But remember that we are warriors!
Fifth, since the attractions of the enemy are so attractive and addicting — money, sex, power — people do not want their sinful status quo changed, even as we propose to do them good. Even as Jesus totally transformed the demoniac, all the people could think about was the loss of their “large herd of swine” (v.11) and their town livelihood. “Then they began to beg him to leave their district.” (v.17). We will be rejected, but again, we need to persist.
So knowing what we are getting into, we persist in evangelization. We know that a Saul can be turned into a Paul. A demoniac and be liberated and undergo total transformation. “As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind.” (v.15a).
When Jesus transforms a sinner, it is a process. We cannot expect outright embrace of the gospel just like that. In fact, with our experience, there are many who are reluctant to even take the first step, when we invite them to meet Christ. “What have you to do with me, Jesus” (v.7a)? But by the grace of God and the power of the Spirit, God works such that the sinner starts to know Christ, and his liberation is now at hand. “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!” (v.8). The sinner experiences conversion (v.15a). He now desires to live Christ, to be with Jesus. “As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.” (v.18). As he prays, reads the Bible, enters into the life of the Church, then his transformation deepens.
But that is not all. The former sinner (though still a sinner but now possessed by God) has to share Christ. He starts with his own family, friends, neighbors. Jesus told him, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” (v.19b). Then there is everyone else. As one enters more deeply into a life in Christ, he should not be able to restrain himself in proclaiming salvation in Jesus to all. “Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him” (v.20a).
If we go about the work of the New Evangelization, with these basic realities in mind and heart, then there will be great works done. “And all were amazed.” (v.20b).
* * *