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The setting sun painted copper scarfs on the disturbed surface of the sea. Asher sighed heavily, straightening his wounded hands.

"This night is going to be better", the man promised himself, fastening an iron chain across his chest, "it's going to be different tonight". 

Fresh wounds opened on his swollen hands, and a trickle of blood marked a grey stone of the cave. The grey outline of Capernaum on the other side of the Sea of Galilee was barely visible in the distance and yet it seemed Asher could hear the Shema being prayed on the other side of the lake.

He longed to hear the sound of prayer again. But there was no time. His bruised hands worked swiftly on fixing the fetters.  Faster, faster, before the setting sun accomplishes the journey.  Faster, faster, before the night turns the landscape into a valley of terrifying shadows, whispering strange words into his ears.

Asher rolled himself closer to one of the cave’s stones. Iron chain limited his moves. "It’s going to be different tonight” – the man whispered into the blackening day, determined to make it through another night. 

It was all-different on the other side of the lake.
All was better where he was not—the man’s unnameable disease afflicted the land around.

Among the caves –
that’s where he belonged.

Curious to Learn Some More?

All the last chances I gave myself… I wonder how many were there. All the promises I designed to fail, all the plans that were too great to begin. A day wouldn’t last to list them all. 

Whenever I’m trying to face temptation on my own, it costs me so much effort and brings so little effect. And since the sin is not so big while the relief is so huge, well: does anyone need any more literal confession?

My Bible-friend for the coming week came without any name. He likes when I call him Asher because it means ‘blessed – the joyful, the happy one’. But since Scripture mentions no name, his story most likely is happening to each one of us or reveals some truth about each heart.

The Gerasene demoniac lives among tombs and pigs: that’s quite an unusual setup for the Gospel's land, as both pigs and tombs were unclean. He, however, resides on the pagan side of the Galilee Sea: the rules of the Holy Land are alien to him.

He creates another set of restrictions: beating with stones and biding with chains and fetters. And there’s so much noise in his life. He constantly screams and listens to his own cries.

But one night Jesus calms the storm at the Sea of Galilee. He calms all the noises, fears, all disappointments and doubts. All become so silent, so free of articulation and yet so real. 

That dark and stormy night, Asher couldn’t know that Messiah was on his way. He couldn’t know that God hears even that cry which we give out while failing. He couldn’t know that God crosses through the seas and storms to respond with His presence. 

And suddenly, among all those endless restrictions and rules that were supposed to keep him safe, the only thing that saved Asher was setting him free.

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Parishes of Greystones and Kilquade · The Holy Rosary & St. Kilian Parish · La Touche Road · Greystones, Co. Wicklow A63N478 · Ireland