Go Home To Your Family

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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.   ~   Mark 5: 1 – 20

 

          The Parable of the Pigs as I call it is an enigma to me. No matter how many interpretations and explanations I read on it, the initial intellectual satisfaction is always temporary. After a time, I always get the sense that the real meaning of the parable for me  – eludes me. It’s akin to travelling on a road and coming to an inn by the wayside. Once inside the inn, with the nourishment of food and drink inside me, I assume that my journey has come to an end and that I should just stay the night or return to where I came from; that there is nothing more to journey on for any more.

          But soon, I realise this inn is not the last stop for me; its nourishment not as filling and as lasting as I first presumed.

          The road stretches on further.

          Today, seeing the parable again, it suddenly came to me that the Parable of the Pigs is meant to be a journey, different parts meaning different things as I journey though life, and meanings constantly evolving. In an odd way, this comforted me considerably, it made sense why my heart cannot seem to settle for any discernment.

          And so I returned to the parable, but this time, with different eyes.

          Always confounded by why the demons had to be sent into the poor pigs, resulting in them rushing down the cliffs into the water and drowning, why Jesus allowed this mass death of animals to occur, this time, notwithstanding the same questions, my heart was steered towards something else.

          For the first time, I didn’t see the pigs. I saw the possessed man.

          I saw his sorrowful home, his life of horrifying, endless grief among the rocks and tombs, confined to dying but never death itself, by the hold Legion had upon him. Often, he was driven to mad despair, dashing himself with stones, his self-harm a plea for real death, that the torments end.

          For the first time, in that poor man, I saw myself, from childhood till marriage and even after the joy of children, banging my head against walls, hitting myself with my bare fists, with books, pulling violently at my own hair, slapping myself, screaming and screaming for release from the madness and cruelty of an entity whose name was not known to me back then.

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…
And people came out to see what had happened…
…they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.

clothed and in his right mind

          Tiny pearls began to line up. The dream 11 years ago. My husband and I are dressed in our wedding finery, entering the church through the left side, with our children as ring bearers and flower girl. Entering church to be married once more, it seemed. Followed by deep joy in bathing one of my children, the seemingly mundane tasks of family life. Then, a sudden swerve. I am alone, in our present parish, dressed in a dark, dull red blouse. In the empty church, taking up an offering of preserved flowers. Alone. Empty church. Dried flowers. And the dream ends there.

          Dried flowers, red blouse. For some reason, immediately and long years after, those two details stay with me like a burr. Why dried flowers? Why red? I have probed a thousand times.

          Then, one night, on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, less than a year after the dream, sorrow biting deep, yet happy that I could care for my family, my in-laws. Awakening in the dark dawn, seeing the shadows of tree branches dance against the walls, the play of tiny lights. Deep serenity.

          Suddenly, a flash and a return to memory of the 2 dreams – the Second Wedding and the Offertory.

          And in a silvery breath, a soft, clear, feminine voice saying to me,

The dreams will be reversed in reality.

Sorrow before joy.

          Taking the Offertory. Dull red blouse. From last year, starting from the anniversary of our marriage registration, inexplicably, each and every time I wore red, my husband and I have been asked to carry the Bread and Wine during the Offertory at Mass. In a church of more than 1 000 parishioners, red is common enough and I have nothing to me to make me stand out for any reason.

          And yet, each time without fail, since our last marriage anniversary, every time I was in red, the usher would quietly come to our pew with the request.

          Solitary offertory in an empty church. I’ve always wondered if it was God’s reminder to me offer up my efforts, at home and at work. To make it my firstfruit offering each and every time.

          Today, Someone gently settles understanding on my heart:

Offertory in an empty church

Console Me

          Suddenly I see what I’ve never seen before – last year, as never before in our lives, each time we were in the city, no matter how rushed we were, I’d try to take the family with me into the empty church, to spend some quiet time with Jesus, trying to heed little St. Francisco Marto’s call to Console Jesus. It never seemed like much. Not with a ticking clock, restless children, miles upon miles to travel before we got home. I recalled too the recent night awakenings, and the immediate turn of mind and heart, to console Jesus.

          Now I understand that, that was the Offertory God had asked of us.

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.”

          Go home to your family. With the deepening strife at work, each time I cried and begged to be released from my work chains, God took more and more out of me, more and more away from me. And over and over, I heard the same,

Go home to your family

          To my children’s needs. To my husband’s sufferings and struggles. To my in-laws’ tribulations with marriage, ill health, old age and increasing distance from the faith. Every time something or someone at work hurt me, the Angel led me to bury my wounds in caring for family – the Heart of Jesus.

          Go home to your family. I saw the child of my dream, the one I had been bathing, soap suds all over. I heard the tinkle of joyful laughter, baby mirth so, so deeply treasured. The voice I’d give anything to hear once more. I can no longer bathe this child. That time has long passed, never to be mine. But Love Unseen has led me to care for my family and even for those not family but who live in my heart, in ways I could never have imagined during the long years of my parents’ NPD torment.

The dreams will be reversed in reality. Sorrow before joy.

          Go home to your family is the bridge that links the Sorrow of the Offertory to the Joy of the Second Wedding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

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3 comments

  1. Sometimes when I struggle to understand the words of God intellectually I am reminded by the Holy Spirit that His words are Spiritually discerned. Then I breathe a sigh of relief as I cast aside my intellect and walk in faith.”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.” Prov. 3:5-6

    Liked by 1 person

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