Gospel Reading Sunday October 22 (Luke 8:26-39)
A Demon-Possessed Man Healed
Gadara was one of ten cities known as Decapolis east of the Jordan River. In this arid place, a demon-possessed man went about among the tombs where he resided, naked, tormenting himself and those around him. In fear, the locals had him shackled in chains but the ferocity of the demons with which he was possessed was too great to be tamed.
Encountering this tormented soul, Jesus asked him his name: “Legion” was the reply. A legion was an armed regiment numbering 6000 soldiers, indicating the man had been possessed by many demons. Nevertheless, the presence of Jesus brought them all to their knees and the demoniac fell at Christ’s feet pleading, “What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” While the multitudes thought Jesus to be a mere man, or a great prophet at best, the demons proclaimed His divinity and superiority over them.
On being commanded to come out from the man, the demons realised they would be banished to the depths of Hell. They begged leave of Christ to enter a nearby herd of pigs. From this plea, we witness the naked shamelessness of the demons, who dare to enter even into the “unclean” swine. Permitted this request, the swine became possessed and, numbering about two thousand, violently rushed down a steep hill to be drowned in the lake. This shows that Jesus exercises divine providence and authority over all creation, for as soon as he gave the pigs over to the demons, they immediately destroyed them. Were they not prevented from harming the man they possessed, they would have done the same or worse to him.
This passage concludes when the inhabitants of that region go out to see what just happened. Seeing the demoniac calm and clothed sitting by Jesus, they were seized with great fear of Christ’s power and begged Him to depart from them. Fulfilling their request, He departed the region and left as a witness him who was freed from the demons to tell what great things God had done for him, indicating not only His power, but His meekness too.
We too can find ourselves far from God and walking amid the tombs of dead works. In such a state, we are not only tormented ourselves, but affect those around us. Until we repent and come to the realisation of Christ’s commandments, we can never be free. The message of this Gospel passage is that change is required in all our lives.
Source: Lychnos October/November 2017