One of the most often asked daily questions is: “How are you doing?” And the most usual response is “I’m good” or “I’m fine.” We seem to ask and answer this question so often that there is little meaning in these exchanges. We are busy people and we do want to engage people in a friendly way, but we may not feel we have the time to express our true feelings or also have the time to really listen. Personally, whenever I use my default answer “I’m good”, what I really mean to say is “I feel the crushing weight of the world coming down upon me and I am grateful to God for helping me hold it all together.” (Well, mostly that’s a Monday response.) More to the point, I tend to hold onto the baggage in my day; I disregard my emotions or I dismiss them altogether; and I withhold these things from friends and family. When I act in this way an accumulation begins to happen, and it is not with the things that God desires for me.
This is the predicament of the man we find in today’s gospel. In this extreme case we see that what has accumulated has also possessed. In a display of compassion and power, Christ empties the unholy mess of spirit and desire that has accumulated within the man. This is the same healing love we encounter in the sacrament of reconciliation. We reconcile ourselves to Christ. We empty ourselves of our own will so that the Holy Spirit may dwell in that place. It will always be this ongoing process of accumulation, emptying, and reconciliation that defines what it means to be in relationship with God. We may lack the stamina to continually ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness, but God never tires from granting it because it is God’s favorite thing to do.
So I ask you on this Friday in the 27th week in Ordinary Time, “How are you doing?” If there’s a deeper movement than the normal, share it with our Lord in your prayers. Or possibly, it may be time to re-enter the holy ground of the confessional?
—Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago