Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr (opt. Memorial); Saint Ansgar, bishop (opt. Memorial)
A messenger came to David, saying, "The hearts of the Israelites have gone after Absalom." Then David said to all his officials who were with him at Jerusalem, "Get up! Let us flee, or there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Hurry, or he will soon overtake us, and bring disaster down upon us, and attack the city with the edge of the sword." But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot; and all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went.
When King David came to Bahurim, a man of the family of the house of Saul came out whose name was Shimei son of Gera; he came out cursing. He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; now all the people and all the warriors were on his right and on his left. Shimei shouted while he cursed, "Out! Out! Murderer! Scoundrel! The Lord has avenged on all of you the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, disaster has overtaken you; for you are a man of blood."
Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head." But the king said, "What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, 'Curse David,' who then shall say, 'Why have you done so?" David said to Abishai and to all his servants, "My own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on my distress, and the Lord will repay me with good for this cursing of me today." So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, throwing stones and flinging dust at him. The king and all the people who were with him arrived weary at the Jordan; and there he refreshed himself.
How many are my foes, O Lord!
How many are rising up against me!
How many are saying about me:
'There is no help for him in God.' (R./)
But you, Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, who lift up my head.
I cry aloud to the Lord.
He answers from his holy mountain. (R./)
I lie down to rest and I sleep.
I wake, for the Lord upholds me.
I will not fear even thousands of people
who are ranged on every side against me.
Arise, Lord; save me, my God. (R./)
Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me." For he had said to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "My name is Legion; for we are many." He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, "Send us into the swine; let us enter them." So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighbourhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, "Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you." And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
Some of our sharpest sorrows come from divisions within our own family. Many of the trials that King David had to face were caused by members of his family. His own marital adventures were sordid and pathetic at times, and he later repents of his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah. No matter how guilty David was, he showed an honest humility when confronted by the facts. Later he shows compassion even when his son Absalom rebelled and wanted to kill his father. In today’s episode, David decides not to punish a political enemy for cursing him. Wearily he declares: “Let him alone and let him curse, for it is the Lord’s will.” By that time David seems to have learned patience from his own harsh experiences.
The same mercy and respect appears in Jesus’ treatment of the madman in the country of the Gerasenes. When this wild man approached him beside the Lake of Galilee Jesus showed him patience and good humour. When the wild spirits ask to be sent into the herd of swine, Jesus agrees; and later when the local inhabitants begged him to leave their district, he did as they asked. When the man who had been cured wants to follow Jesus, he sends him as a missionary-disciple to proclaim to others what had been done for him.
Jesus did not worry about the consequences of associating with a former demoniac. What he saw was a human being deserving of respect. Hence Jesus willingly received the cured man into the larger group of those who believe in him.