3rd February. Monday, Week Four in Ordinary Time
Saint Blaise, martyr.
Blaise was a doctor in his native Sebaste in Armenia when chosen by acclamation as bishop of that city. People came to him from all parts, for healing of soul and body. One of his miracles was to cure a choking boy; hence the traditional blessing of throats on his feast-day. He was martyred in 316, under emperor Licinius.
1st Reading: 2 Samuel 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13
(While fleeing Jerusalem during Absalom’s revolt, David is cursed and accepts it as the will of God.)
A messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the Israelites have gone after Absalom.” Then David said to all his officials who were with him at Jerusalem, “Get up! Let us flee, or there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Hurry, or he will soon overtake us, and bring disaster down upon us, and attack the city with the edge of the sword.” But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot; and all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went.
When King David came to Bahurim, a man of the family of the house of Saul came out whose name was Shimei son of Gera; he came out cursing. He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; now all the people and all the warriors were on his right and on his left. Shimei shouted while he cursed, “Out! Out! Murderer! Scoundrel! The Lord has avenged on all of you the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, disaster has overtaken you; for you are a man of blood.”
Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?”” David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “My own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on my distress, and the Lord will repay me with good for this cursing of me today.” So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, throwing stones and flinging dust at him. The king and all the people who were with him arrived weary at the Jordan; and there he refreshed himself.
Gospel: Mark 5:1-20
(Jesus cures a madman and then sends the man to proclaim the good news to the Ten-Cities region.)
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. 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 swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighbourhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
One is cursed and one is healed
Some of our sharpest griefs come from divisions within our own family. The hardest trials King David had to endure were caused by members of his family, or as he said himself, from “my own son, who came forth from my loins.” His family history is long and complicated, sordid and pathetic at times, brilliant and successful at others, and his troubles go back to his crimes of adultery and homicide in the case of Bathsheba and Uriah. What seemed a smoothly managed affair at the time, later came back to haunt him
No matter how guilty David was, we can admire his humility and compunction when confronted by the facts, and his enduring love even towards a son in revolt who tried to do away with him his father. In today’s episode, David decides that a clansman related to Saul should not be executed for cursing his king–and attributes his own hunted situation to God’s providence. Wearily he declares: Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. Perhaps God will take pity on my affliction and give me favour in return for bearing the curses he is heaping on me. At that moment David seemed heroic in his patience.
The same spirit of mercy is seen in Jesus’ response to the demoniac. When this wild man ran up to Jesus on the southeastern shore of the Lake of Galilee Our Lord showed him exemplary patience and respect. When the mad spirits ask to be sent into the herd of swine, Jesus agreedl and then when the local inhabitants begged him “to go away from their district,” Jesus proceeded to get into the boat. Then the man, now cured of his illness and his strange ways, wants to follow as a disciple and Jesus accepts him but sends him forth as a missionary-disciple to proclaim throughout the Ten Cities what had been done for him. Jesus did not delve into the causes of the man’s mental illness nor worry about the consequences of being associated with a former demoniac. What he saw was a brother of good will and fervent enthusiasm, a man deserving of respect. Hence Jesus willingly receives the cured man into the larger group of those who believe in him.