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Telling Jesus to shove off

Listening to the Gospel reading today, Mark 5: 1-20, about the healing of the Gerasene demoniac, I remembered that great poem by Richard Wilbur, "Matthew 8, 28 ff," concerning the same story as recorded in Matthew.  We (okay, not we…I) always seem to pay too much attention to the healing of the demoniac and not enough to the unwillingness to “resign/Our trust in the high-heaped table and the full trough.”

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Michael O. Garvey works in public relations at the University of Notre Dame.



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Would that the Catholic liturgy commission had involved Richard Wilbur (Episcopalian, if I"m not mistaken) in the new translation of the Mass.  He might have been willing to help.  Sigh.

We have corrupted the gospel so much. It is alright to seek the first seat. As long as you are not attached to it. It is alright to amass wealth as long as you are not attached to it. Don't give away your wealth to the poor. Give it to the church who will build hundred million dollar cathedrals. .....

Surely "shove off" is an understandable enough response? Who would we force to swallow the loss of livelihood without bitterness?

There is an interesting phenomenon that occasionally pops up in miracle stories in the New Testament. Obviously, the stories are there to make rhetorical points, but when you read past that, you find yourself wondering about the fates of those touched by the miracles, since they are normally abandoned wholesale by the narrative once it moves on. Think of the pythoness "healed" by Paul in Acts (he was annoying her). What happens to her, once Paul has moved on? She had been a valuable slave, one who would have been relatively well cared for by her owners, due to her lucrative potential. But now, she's worthless to them. Does anyone think things went well for her after that? But that's how the story works: a point is made, and she's collateral damage. 

What a wonderful poem (and one I didn't know). Maybe, if it would not violate the copyright laws too badly, copies ought to be provided free of charge with the Wall Street Journal's "special offer" to Catholic subscribers (mentioned in another thread).

Perhaps it is unfair to say this, but have you ever seen the fraternity houses at Amherst?  Beyond that, I find this poem too tendentious in substance and somewhat stilted in language to be a "great" poem.  

I don't now if it's unfair of you to say it, so much as just kind of weird.

I enjoy the Gospel readings where Jesus says and does kind of strange things.  I always look forward to what the  homiliist is going to try and make of it. .  My personal favorite is when He tells the foreign woman that it would be wrong to give the children's food to the dogs; that one always makes for an interesting sermon.



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