In this short reading from Mark’s gospel, Jesus tells us three things about our mission as disciples. First, we don’t do it alone. Ministry is never something that we do by ourselves. True ministry is never a matter of our personal preference or even of what we personally think should be done. True ministry is a calling, and that calling involves the whole Church. We can’t be disciples all by ourselves. That fact helps to keep us authentic, and it also gives us support. Jesus sent them out two by two for a reason.
Second, we can’t be too worried about what we take with us on the journey. Too much stuff just weighs us down and keeps us from doing what we are called to do. And if we make sure we have everything we’ll ever need for the journey, then we don’t have to rely on God. Which is totally backwards, because all we need for the journey is God anyway! With God’s presence on the journey, we will never be without anything we need.
Finally, the mission is about repentance and conversion. Now, just as it was back then, the need for conversion in our world is huge. We are the ones who need to call people to repentance by living authentic lives and by speaking the truth in love. It is our calling to be the voice calling people back to the Lord.
Our mission is to call people to repentance by living authentic lives within the community of the Church, trusting in God for the words and the grace. If we would not be afraid to do that, we too could drive out many demons in Jesus’ name.
“O LORD, how many are my adversaries!” That is what the Psalmist cries out today. And well he might, because we see those many adversaries in today’s Liturgy of the Word.
The casting out of the demon Legion is a chilling one for us, I think, because it’s really our story. How many of us have had a pattern of sin, or at least a bad habit, in our lives and have struggled long and hard with it? How much that pattern or vice looks like Legion in today’s Gospel. Just as the man possessed had been chained many times, only to have those chains broken by the force of the demon, so we have tried to put away our sins and vices many times, only to have them break through once again, with seemingly more strength than ever. We find that we are just not strong enough to subdue it.And the demon is right – he is Legion – there are so many of these things that infest us throughout our lives. The man possessed is a figure for the entire world, infested by a Legion of demons that cannot be restrained. They are afraid, and put in their place, by only one person and that is Jesus Christ. They are afraid of the Christ and know that his power will eventually do much more violence to them than just being cast into a herd of swine that drowns in a sea.
David knew he was a sinful man, and just in case he forgot, God sent Shimei to remind him. David found the humility to let the man do his work, and he took responsibility for his sinfulness, trusting only in the mercy of God. That’s the call for each of us today. If we are frustrated by our sins and vice, we should stop trying to put chains on them to try to hide them or subdue them. It’s time for us to let Christ cast them out – Legion as they may be – and give us the peace that the man possessed found in today’s Gospel.