His Pain Like Mine

In St. Matthew's Gospel we read that Jesus healed two demoniacs. These two men were possessed by demons, who begged Jesus to let them go into a herd of pigs rather than into hell - their eternal home and Jesus permitted them to go. The swineherdsmen were so shocked they ran into town to complain to the townspeople over the loss of their pigs. We see a strange reaction from the people - a reaction that baffles the mind and causes Jesus much pain.

Scripture tells us that these two men were fierce, violent men who were a constant source of fear to all the people. The people's reaction to the healing should have been one of gratitude and love. However we read, "that whole town set out to meet Jesus and as soon as they saw Him they implored Him to leave the neighborhood." (Matt. 8:34) They preferred their pigs to Jesus. They preferred that everything remain as it was if changing it cost them something. They were afraid of seeing Divine Power at work. It meant giving up their selfish ways and they preferred that God leave them alone.

There are many occasions in the lifetime of a Christian when acts of love and sacrifice are not appreciated - when the aged are made to feel they are in the way and when loved ones make one feel unwanted. When these occasions arise, the soul should relate that feeling to the deep hurt in the Heart of Jesus as He was told to go away. He felt as we do - hurt and crushed - and He desires us to unite our pain to His and give it to the Father for the salvation of souls.

Prisoners too can relate to this incident in the life of Jesus in a special way. The two men who had been delivered from so many demons were ready to enter society once more - they paid dearly for their indulgence - they suffered from lack of dignity, respect and a total loss of hope - yet the joy they expected from the crowd was lacking. No one was impressed by their conversion. There were only complaints over the cost of that conversion.

The two men delivered by Jesus were delivered of violent, hateful demons, but were not the townspeople under the influence of the quiet demons of greed, ambition, self-indulgence and selfishness? We cannot imagine the state of each soul who pleaded that God's Son leave their town. It is ironic that the two who were so visibly possessed were freed by the power of Jesus and accepted His love, while those who were respected citizens asked the God of Mercy to leave them alone.

Can it be that we are all in a kind of prison? Is it possible that those who are in prison today, publicly punished for their violence and crimes, have the opportunity to change and turn to Jesus - accept His Love and end up more free in heart and soul than those outside prison walls?

Repentance can make the rejected ones acceptable to God, while pride makes those accepted by the world and its standards, rejected by God. When we begin to build walls of prejudice, hatred, pride and self-indulgence around ourselves, we are more surely imprisoned than any prisoner behind concrete walls and iron bars. There are many imprisoned in this way for their entire lives - they never experience the freedom of the children of light - only the comfort of the false protection of the darkness. The pain of changing frightens them and so they prefer their selfishness and complacency to the Word of God or the healing power of His Cross.


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