Sunday, February 02, 2014


As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.  But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”  Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.  Mark 5:18-20

"How Can I Keep From Singing?"
My life goes on in endless song
Above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it's music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
And though the darkness 'round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?
When tyrants tremble in their fear
And hear their death knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?
Pete Seeger!  Presente!

You cannot be the witness to a miracle and keep quiet.  The late comedian George Carlin used to joke that after a miracle you had to be de-briefed by a priest.  Today, our readings show us people who can’t keep from proclaiming some for the right reason and some for the wrong. 

St. Mark has delivered a few very powerful episodes in recent ordinary days.  First, Jesus calms the tumultuous seas.  He follows that powerful and puzzling incident by driving the demons out of the man who was possessed.  Before all this, Jesus was telling his followers a series of sweet and significant parables.  He backs up those stories with meaningful actions that matter a great deal in the lives of the people around. 

Although the people are in fear of what cannot be explained, nonetheless, Jesus tells them that they cannot keep this light under a bushel.  “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”  

Today’s readings strike me not only for the miracle of the driving out of the demons, but also (almost more so) for all the hub-bub it created.  Legion possesses the man and interacts with Jesus as he disembarks from the boat. Imagine the cacophony of sound as the pigs are possessed and plunge off the cliff.  The swineherders witness the action and run to town to tell everyone what happens.  The townsfolk are terrified about what it means and beg the men to leave so they can go back into their comfort zone. 

People want to get back to the old equilibrium of ignoring the possessed man and going about their business.  But Jesus will have none of the old way.  They cannot put the demons back in the bottle.  You MUST announce to the world what is happening. 

Growing up in an American-Italian family in the northeast, there was little talk of religion outside of Sunday Mass and CCD classes except during special seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.  Outside of the third of the time we slept, religion probably made up only one percent of all activity.  At the end of Mass, the operative word was, “Go.”  By the time we hit the parking lot, the rest of the dismissal rite was long forgotten.  So much for “Go in peace to love and serve the world.”

We did not focus on our responsibility to announce the Good News to our family nor anyone else.  You just tried to be good and listen to your mother so your next trip to the Confessional was short.  Stay in your comfort zone.  Ah, but Cursillo and the Good News shake us out of that attitude.

BC = Before Cursillo.  Bible study?  Nonexistent.  Daily practices of piety or periodic retreats? Maybe one a year for a couple of years in high school and college.  Action in the form of service projects? A little more activity here but still would not register on the Tripod Richter Scale.   Volunteerism yes through the fire department, PTA or youth sports but not Catholic Action as implied in Cursillo.

AC = After Cursillo when we get charged up.  What does Jesus’ command “announce” mean for you today?  What is your part in the New Evangelization mission of the Church?  That mission is not just left in the hands of the bishops, priests, deacons and those in religious communities.  How do you spread the “joy of the Good News?”  How can you keep from singing?

No comments: