What Is Your Name? (Mark 5:1-25)
Our name is our fundamental identity. Evoking it, evokes our very personhood. In this account by St. Mark, Jesus is disembarking from his boat after having just calmed a storm. He encounters a man possessed by unclean spirits and asks him that most revealing question: 'What is your name?' …How do you identify yourself?
The man responded, 'My name is Legion, …for there are many of us.' He identified himself as the overwhelming torment his life had become. A Roman legion consisted of five thousand soldiers. Because of her unfaithfulness, Israel relinquished her sovereignty; she became ruled by Rome’s legion of soldiers. So too, this man surrendered control of his life to the legion of demons in his world.
He lived among the tombs, howling through the night, inflicting wounds upon himself. He was tormented by forces so powerful, that chains and shackles could not contain him. The locals must have, in his earlier life, highly respected him, for why else would they have exposed themselves to the danger of trying to constrain him from hurting himself?
What sinful choices, mental illness, rejection, abuse, or life tragedy that brought this man from innocent baby to wild madman is left unaddressed. It is ultimately unimportant. For, as fire attracts a moth to its death, so the fire of Jesus’ Mercy drew the tormenting spirits to him, to be subjugated at his feet -as soon as those feet stepped off the boat. What chains of steel could not contain, the power of Jesus’ Mercy inevitably quelled, as Light dispels Dark.
As the raging wind and sea was stilled by the Word of Jesus, so the unclean spirits surrendered their Reign of Torment to his Beckoning Mercy. This tragic man, this creature of God, was not God-Forsaken. The love of Jesus found him, lost in the Tombs Of Death. This man, who himself was a living tomb, an Abode To Death, was in the Mystery Of Mercy, driven by Evil’s torment to the feet of Jesus -just as the herd of pigs, carrying the legion of unclean spirits were driven into the Abyss from which they came.
Jesus, I have sinned against you. My sins, the sins of others, random acts of nature, and Minions of Darkness, in your Mercy, are chasing me to your feet, to the foot of your Cross. Save me Jesus from my sins, from the grip of the Enemy. Deliver me in my weakness, from the alluring distractions I find so attractive, from the Hand of Suffering you have allowed to humble me. For all this, I thank you Lord, as I now have no hope but You!You delivered the man called Legion, you gave him a New Name. You found me, lost in the tombs of my sin. You have saved me and set me free. Jesus, you have given me the Name of your Father. I am driven t0 sing the praises of your Mercy. Oh, that I could stay here and revel in this moment of Light. But you refused the man with a New Name to remain in the shadow of your Glory. You sent him to return home, to where he had become Lost, to give testimony of being Saved, of having a new identity in you. Lord, as you send me back into the everydayness of life, may the Joy and Peace of your Holy Spirit give witness to my Hope in you.