With gratitude to Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Unrestrained by the moderates of either ruling party of Gerasa, Mr. Legion has announced (howled, really) that he will run for president of the country, declaring that its dysfunctional government must be replaced by his Lunatic Fringe if it is to accomplish what the people really want.
Campaigning in a nearby cemetery—the only place, he explains, where he will not be interrupted—he says he has no need of the media to bash him, because he can do so himself using the many stones available there. His nudity, he asserts, symbolizes his campaign’s transparency, contrasting with his opponents’ many obfuscations and secret funding.
He explains that his 5000 demons, from whence he takes his name, best represent the many prejudices, fears, anxieties, and evils secretly harbored by the Gerasenes, and which the ruling parties manipulate to win elections.
“There would be no need of a candidate like me,” he wails persuasively, “If the members of the political parties could negotiate their differences without trying to score points in the media, take advantage of the other’s flexibility, or insert narrow ideologies and religious views in legislation.” He adds, gesturing, “Why, that great herd of swine over there get along better than they do!”
As Jesus passes by, Mr. Legion demands gruffly, “And what do you want with me?!”
“Come out of this man, you unclean spirits!” Jesus commands. And out of Mr. Legion come the people’s prejudices, fears, anxieties, and evils—but they have nowhere to go, save to return to the people who imagine they are above this candidate’s lunacy.
Though Jesus doesn’t want to scapegoat the nearby herd of swine by visiting them with the presidential hopeful’s demons, this seems the lesser evil, and off they stampede over a cliff to drown in the sea (“News at 11!”).
The people of Gerasa, as well as the leaders of their ruling parties, come to find Mr. Legion clothed and in his right mind, and they are afraid. Lest Jesus exorcise their demons, they urge him to move on.
Mr. Legion wants to follow, but Jesus challenges him to go to his fellow citizens and tell them what God has done—how God’s mercy can transform even the most vile and merciless candidates for elected office, as well as their electors.
Likely, many of his fellow countrymen and countrywomen will prefer to join the pigs in the sea.
Today’s post alludes to an analysis of this story by René Girard referenced in an earlier post, “Exorcising Demons.”
This “midrash” on Mark 5:1-20 also appeared in the Huffington Post a few weeks ago, but didn’t get much traction!
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