IN those days, when Jesus came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming out of the tombs met Him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, “What have You to do with us, O Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged Him, “If You cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And Jesus said to them, “Go!” So they came out and entered the swine, and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the two demon-possessed men. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw Him, they begged Him to leave their neighborhood. And after getting into a boat He crossed the sea and came to His own town.
Sorry for the late posts this week. We had our friends over for the first half of the week, and the rest of the week was simply too hot, to even think.
Just a few notes on this Sunday's Gospel lesson. The demons that possessed the two poor men immediately recognized Who Jesus truly is, "What have You to do with us, O Son of God?" If we read the Gospel accounts carefully, we'll notice that only the righteous people and demons recognize Jesus, everyone else, including His disciples, were not exactly sure about Hi until after the resurrection.
The demons had to beg Jesus to let them enter the pigs. They had to ask permission because, as evil as they are, they cannot possess living creatures on their own. The question then becomes, how wicked did the two men have to be for the demons to possess them? Since the demons could not possess the pigs with express permission from the Lord, there was no way they could enter human beings without being invited by the human beings. What did the two men do to summon and let the demons possess them? I do not think we want to know the answer.
As soon as the demons saw Jesus, they knew that their "fun" was over. Christ was not going let the men remain possessed. The Lord became incarnate because humanity was in slavery to satan for too long. He came to save us and to heal us and to free us.
When the demons possessed the swine, the whole herd ran off the cliff and drowned. I think this tells us that demons cannot possess irrational creatures. Only the rational creatures, who bid them welcome, can be controlled by the evil spirits.
When the people saw what Jesus had done, they focused on the pigs, on the bacon, on the lost profit, and not on the fact that the two men, who were terribly possessed, and who quite literally scared the hell out of everyone else, were now healed and in their right mind. And we see the whole town also begging Jesus, just like the demons begged Him. But the town asks them that He leave them alone, instead of welcoming the Lord into their midst.
Jesus does not force anyone to believe in Him. He did not do it then, and He does not do it now. Faith is a personal choice. By the simple fact that we are God's creatures, God chooses us, as Christ says in the Gospel according to Saint John, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you" (John 15:16). And it's up to us to respond to being chosen. And God gives us complete freedom of choice here. If we choose Him, and love Him, and follow Him, and do His will, He will be with us. If you choose to beg Him to leave us...He will, just like He left the people of Gadarenes alone.
We just need to be sure that life without Christ is better than life with Him. Choice is ours, brothers and sisters.
Yours in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest