Monday, February 01, 2021

Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

I just started re-watching the series 24 with kiefer Sutherland. It’s escapist, violent, intense, ridiculous in plot, lots of evil characters.... I love it!!! But the one common theme in each season is the enemy, you have to have an enemy and the enemies in 24 are usually foreign, dark skinned, Middle Eastern, Muslim terrorists. We love to project our fears onto that which we don’t understand, a different culture or religion, which “unites” us who are the good guys. Classic. It’s called scapegoating and it’s one of the consequences of Original Sin.

In the gospel is the possessed Gerasene who lived among the tomb, slashing himself, being chained by the villagers to contain him; he lived among the tombs. Jesus freed this man from Legion, a name for Satan meaning “the many.” After the man is freed, Jesus sends him back home, to his own people, who got used to him in his horrible condition. They related to him as an “outsider” and they became comfortable with this arrangement. They had someone to project their own narrow mindsets onto, allowing them an outlet for the need to blame someone.

They are confused, confounded, by someone they thought they knew and had pegged: he was no longer possessed and didn’t need to be chained and live among the tombs. Now his own people had to SEE him in a totally different light. Jesus eventually sends the man to the region called the Decapolis, the ten cities, a place where different worldviews and cultures converged.

We like to have people “pegged” or figured out because it’s comfortable. But when they have a change of character, a conversion, oftentimes third closest have the most difficult time with this change. Talk to any addict, who breaks free from an addiction, a version of Legion, and they will tell you it’s very lonely to find this new life. Why? Because they have to give up ALL their current friends who like being addicted and their own loved ones seem to be happy but are actually suspicious.

We are ALL on the road to conversion. Maybe we don’t truly change our ways because we are comfortable with all our social arrangements and are afraid to go into our own “decapolis” out of fear of loneliness and change. If we just surrender to the conversion, Jesus will show up and lead us into new relationships that support a new, life giving way of living.

I’m not giving up on 24, however, as long as I remember it’s just fantasy and reflects a warped way of viewing those who are different. Maybe that is its purpose, at least for me.

Fr. Frank