In the Lectionary

June 19, 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Psalm 22:19-28; Luke 8:26-39

Many people are bound. Some are bound and don’t even know it. Anxiety, fear, unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, disappointment, distraction, memories of the past—all these things can affect a person’s perceptions, experiences, and quality of life.

On a recent mission trip to South Africa, I encountered these words from the late president Nelson Mandela: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

The difference between being free and being bound is at the center of our Gospel text this week. Jesus goes to the land of the Gerasenes and is met by a man who has demons, so many that the name of the spirit is Legion. The man has to be bound with chains and shackles—and when he breaks his chains, the demons drive him into the wilderness. It is as if the man were behind actual prison bars: he is isolated from family, community, and society.