There are occasions when we compromise our faith and allegiance to God just to cater to our fleeting and momentary needs. Even if we knew our commitment before God, there are times when we fall short of our awareness of this. For example, during the election period, we allow politicians to buy our votes because the money will feed our families. We all know that vote-buying is evil and nothing good comes out of evil compromises. As Christians, we are duty-bound to fight evil by doing good that is deeply rooted in our faith and allegiance to God. However, this battle is not ephemeral but perennial, and it is changing. There are times when we are weak and give in. We succumb to temptation rather than embrace God.
When I taught at Don Bosco Training Center, Cebu, I would attend the 6:00 p.m. Mass at the cathedral after classes, as it was just a short distance away. There were times when I wanted to visit areas where some prostitutes lived. My faith tells me I should convince them to change their ways of living. But I also asked myself, what alternative livelihood could I offer them? Telling them to stop their bad lifestyle could be likened to depriving them of their means of survival. I ended up not doing anything, even when I had the moral obligation.
Today’s gospel is similar to my experience. Jesus cast out demons from a man who had been possessed, and these demons transferred to some swine and killed themselves. The villagers were all upset and asked Jesus to leave because they feared losing their means of living. Parallel to my experience, I did not have the courage to speak out about my moral obligations because of fear that these people might lose their means of survival. Even if I had the inspiration of Saints Laura Vicuna and Dominic Savio, who have always been zealous in speaking out against immoralities, I felt powerless. I realized that I should not miss the chance to share my faith in God when the occasion calls for it because faith is meant to be lived, practiced, and shared. Faith should not be compromised by momentary need.
By: Sem. Ace Vergel D. Quilope
Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes.
When he got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs,
and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains,
but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed,
and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides
he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before him,
crying out in a loud voice,
“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, do not torment me!”
(He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”)
He asked him, “What is your name?”
He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.”
And he pleaded earnestly with him
not to drive them away from that territory.
Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.
And they pleaded with him,
“Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.”
And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned.
The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town
and throughout the countryside.
And people came out to see what had happened.
As they approached Jesus,
they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.
And they were seized with fear.
Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened
to the possessed man and to the swine.
Then they began to beg him to leave their district.
As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead,
“Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”
Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.