I find the point of today’s gospel hard to understand, so I put myself into the story as one of the town folk who beg Jesus to leave. I beg this of Jesus because he has just caused an important part of our local economy, the swineherd, to destroy itself. While I see it is good to get rid of the demoniacs, I am just not quite willing to pay such a high price.
Now I turn to my own life and consider in what ways the exact same thing is happening. In what ways do I tolerate some evil or lessening of myself or others because I simply don’t want to pay the price of following Jesus with my entire self, not holding back anything?
What is it that holds me back? In the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius talks about the evil spirits which hold us back. He advises us that the devil wants us to hide them and keep them from the light of day. It is in this way that they continue to hold power over us. Whereas, when we name such evils in confession or in spiritual direction or with a trusted friend, their hold over us dissipates and disappears.
—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.