In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In today’s Gospel we hear about a possessed man, who was completely under the influence and control of demons, “who wore ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.”
Our Savior healed this man who was in the grip of extreme demonic possession, allowing the demons to manifest their power by granting them their request to enter the swine that were feeding nearby. As you remember the whole herd of 2000 pigs rushed headlong down to the lake and drowned themselves.
Yet, I would like to focus on what came afterwards, that is, when the people of the country of the Gadarenes heard about the miracle of the possessed man being healed, they were filled with fear dread rather than being thankful to God for the marvel of the possessed man’s healing. They were so fearful that they besought our Savior to depart from them. How was this possible?
The fact that they were raising swine in the first place was a sign that they had departed from the Law of Moses and the traditions of the Prophets. The Gadarenes knew that they had departed from the ways of the God of Moses and rather than seeking enlightenment and spiritual teaching regarding how they could change their ways and be reconciled to God, they asked God’s messenger, the awaited Messiah, to depart.
May God grant that whenever one of us are given to understand that we have sinned and that we need to repent and change our ways for the better, we respond for the sake our own salvation.
Our Savior was crucified and resurrected on the third day. The word of salvation through our Risen Christ spread throughout the world and changed many things for the better. Yet, as time has passed many formerly Christian societies have turned away from God and abandoned Christian values.
Many have lost the knowledge of what man was created for. Instead of embracing the spiritual truth of our forefather Adam being the special creation of God and the Son of God by adoption, modern man has embraced the idea that he is the son of a monkey. As it has been observed, ideas have consequences. Modern men have abandoned human dignity and have given themselves over to hedonism and an animalistic way of life.
In our own day, the Christian definition of marriage has been abandoned and children are taught in government schools all manner of ideas that create confusion and destroy the dignity of mankind.
The culture that we live and move in contains many demonic influences that are opposed to and incompatible with a Christian way of life. How can we protect our children and ourselves?
We must begin with prayer for our families, and ourselves along with prayer for everyone in our society. Along with this prayer must be the recognition that we are foreigners in this culture and sojourners on this earth.
As Saint Paul exhorted the Ephesians:
Look then carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise ones, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore do not become foolish, but ones who understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Saint John Chyrsostom comments on the words “Not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming the time.”
… what he [Saint Paul] means is this. The time is not yours. At present ye are strangers, and sojourners, and foreigners, and aliens; seek not honors, seek not glory, seek not authority, nor revenge; bear all things, and in this way, “redeem the time”; give up many things, anything they may require. (Homily 19, Saint John Chrysostom On Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians)
We must embrace the understanding and belief that the time here on earth is not ours to waste and that we are strangers and sojourners and foreigners and alien to this world. Our Kingdom is not of this world. Having embraced this belief, then we must find ways to express this belief to our children on a daily basis in word and deed.
As Christians we must seek human dignity and sanctification in our lives.
As Saint Irenaus once wrote:
God…made the things of time, for man, so that coming to maturity in them, he may produce the fruit of immortality…. –[Saint Irenaus, Against Heresies, Book IV Chapter V]
Let us raise our hearts and minds in joy to the things on high and consider the great mystery of our salvation. Let us savor the message of our glorious salvation at least on every Sunday we hear and/or read the hymns of the Church. Let us celebrate the songs of victory over sin and death. Once again, there is great spiritual profit when we read these words with attention and savor the message of our salvation.
Our Savior came to save us from the influence of the evil one. He came to set us free from sin. Yet, in order to achieve this we must exercise our free will by conforming our will to the will of our Heavenly Father and Creator and reject the will of the Slanderer, the Devil, the source of evil.
May God grant that you and your children learn, by the prayers of the glorious Theotokos and of all of the saints, even in these last times, how to follow Christ the God-Man in the context of your life, so that you will be granted spiritual perception and filled with the joy and grace of the vision of the Cross and Resurrection, and by thus so doing you will be able to trample down all of the machinations of the evil one. Amen