Grace to you!
I share some lessons from when the Blessed Lord cast out the legion of demons from the life of
two people possessed and tormented as recording in the Gospel of Matthew 8:28-34.
The Gospel of Matthew, from where I draw today's inspiration, suggests they were two men who were possessed, and that the event happened in the region of the Gadarenes (Mt 8:28). The Gospels of Mark (5:1-10) and Luke (8:26-35) recorded it was one man and that it happened in Gerasenes. You know, Gadarenes and Gerasenes were in the same territory, the Decapolis, east of the Jordan. All three Gospels agree the Lord cast the legion of demons from the possessed into the herd of pigs, and they perished in the lake.
One could argue why two of the Gospels describe the same event differently. Fair enough. But one also has to wonder why after a closed-door meeting between members of one's family, often, two or more participants at the meeting describe it in different ways—some similar, others completely variant.
It would be missing the point to be distracted by the fact that the story has different accounts. Hardly could two people describe the same thing the same way. It is pragmatically impossible. Not to talk of the fact that the events were documented many years after they happened.
The last time I tried to put down some facts about what happened to me when I was a teen, I got many of the details wrong. It was my youngest sister who corrected my errors. Such is life and retelling of what happened. So much for this objection.
Let's return to the incredible scene of the miracle of casting out of the devil, freeing those in bondage. This story has a lot of things to teach us. First, is the absolute power of the Lord over the forces of evil. The Lord says a word and demons bow. The name of Jesus Christ wreaks havoc in the demonic world. Those who walk with the Lord reign in victory over evil.
Second, the demons perish at the command of the Lord. They go where they belong, not to the hearts and souls of men but the dirt and abyss of hell. Such is final judgment when evil would have what it deserves, not the throne of glory but the pit of hell.
Third, I was wondering why the people in the city asked Jesus to leave. One would expect that after freeing two (or one) of the tormented community members, they would be appreciative of Jesus for saving their brothers from the menaces of evil. They weren't.
Was it because of cultural differences, where the Gentile may feel Jesus, being a Jew, destroyed their pigs because of distaste for pigs? Or was it they had grown so comfortable with their habits that they saw any attempt to bring change as a red flag, a significant threat? In sum, they didn't want the change the Lord brought in the area.
This reality confronts us as believers in the Lord. No one meets the Lord and remains the same. The Lord comes to a territory, a home, or inside a heart. He brings new life and new things. The old things begin to give way to the bright light and life of righteousness. Business is never as usual once the Lord is present.
It can be unsettling for many. Many of us want to remain in our comfort zone. I can tell you this from personal experience as a devout Catholic. Sometimes, I want things my way, but the Lord rocks the boat of my comfort zone. It could be our economic comfort zone. Or our moral, ethical, cultural, and social comfort zones. We feel secure in those. Hence, when the nudges of the Lord's presence jumpstart a process towards change, it makes us nervous. We chose to remain where we are.
We forget that the new change, the transforming presence the Lord is going to bring, crushes the tormenting strongholds of evil in our affairs. It is where we get the real freedom we need to win.
I pray that God will give us the grace to embrace his challenging but redeeming presence that brings true freedom. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Wednesday Week 13: Amos 5:14-15;21-24; Matthew 8:28-34]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.