3 Characteristics related in the Gospel are a comprehensive symptomatology of how evil acts in a person’s life.
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Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
The Gospel of Mark describes, in length, a possessed man. By paying attention to the text, we can trace some specific characteristics of evil in our life:
“He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.”
The first thing is “lived among the tombs,” which means that the experience of evil is an experience of death. There are moments, in fact, in which we feel literally “mortified” [from Latin from mors, mort- ‘death’] -moments in which we feel life itself is somehow “dead.”
The Gospel goes even further: “No one could bind him anymore.” That is, this man was no longer capable of keeping meaningful bonds with others that would help him bounce back.
Finally, we also read that he was crying out and hurting himself. That is, he was filled with anger towards others and with self-hatred.
This is the full picture, a comprehensive symptomatology of how evil acts in a person’s life: feeling dead, no longer able to keep meaningful bonds, being angry, and having a grudge against oneself. That is, it is not necessary to be possessed to experience evil. Finding Jesus heals this man from exactly these three things, so much so that whoever meets him immediately after his liberation sees him “sitting there, clothed and in his right mind” – that is, free from what used to agitate him, clothed again with dignity, and capable of proper reasoning.
In this sense, if evil shatters us, faith in Jesus unifies us again. It seems to me this is a good reason to cultivate faith.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.