Wednesday, December 5, 2007

There's a Little Bit of the Erstwhile Gerasene Demoniac in All of Us

A few weeks ago at our men's bible study group (consisting mostly, but not entirely, of other guys at our parish), we were discussing the story of the Gerasene/Gadarene demoniac in Luke 8:26-39.

I suppose I've read this story many times before, but I was particularly struck by one thing in verses 38-39 that I'd never paid attention to until then:

The man from whom the demons had come out begged to remain with him [Jesus], but he [Jesus] sent him away, saying,

"Return home and recount what God has done for you."

The man went off and proclaimed throughout the whole town what Jesus had done for him.

Isn't it intersting how this man told Jesus he wanted to remain with Him — what could be more noble of a sentiment than that? — and yet Jesus tells him no!

Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but it seems to me there's something of an everyman in the erstwhile Gerasene demoniac. How often does each of us formulate in our own mind a plan for how we want to live out our discipleship, only to have the Holy Spirit illuminate a path for us that we never expected to traverse?

My friend and co-worker Matt Yonke posted an entry on his blog recently that prompted me to recall this Gospel story. Therein, Matt — the father of a just-turned-one-year old boy — wrote about how he and his wife Erin have found it rather difficult in recent months to really immerse themselves in Divine Liturgy, what with their having to tend to their son.

My wife and I can surely relate (our oldest will be five next month, and our youngest is seven months), and no doubt many of you can, too.

I'm inclined to think that this is simply one of the things we as parents simply have to deal with. Once we start having kids, are we going to be able to immerse ourselves as fully into the Mass/Divine Liturgy as we would before we had kids?

It seems to me the answer is clearly no; we're not. It's inevitable — to one extent or another, depending on a given child's temperament — that dealing with little ones at church means we're not going to reach the level of sublime contemplation we would otherwise like to achieve.

It also seems to me that this is — paradoxically — a sacrifice we as parents are called to make on behalf of our children.

[Cross-posted at Catholic Dads]

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