Fifth Sunday after Pentecost – 2020

My dear friends in our Lord: Glory to Jesus Christ!

In today’s Gospel, we hear related the visit of our Lord to the country of the Gerasens, in which he meets two demoniacs, two men possessed by devils.

Our Lord, of His own will crossed the sea in a boat from His own country, and came to the possessed men.

These demoniacs dwelt among the sepulchres, the burying ground near to the seashore, and no one could pass by where they dwelt. And yet our Lord comes unto them. Then, as the Gospel tells us:

“[The demoniacs] cried out, saying: What have we to do with Thee, Jesus Son of God? Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?”

The demons, although unwillingly, proclaim the invincible power of the Lord. The demons proclaim Christ to be One Who has power; they quake at His coming, and they fall down before Him, saying, Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time? You see, the demons feared that Christ would not wait for the time appointed for the demons’ final punishment, for such a decision would be within the power of the Lord to make. The demons feard that the Lord had perhaps become unwilling to endure their malice any longer. But this is not so; for God is just and His word, even to the demons, is steadfast and true. None are judged, and none receive their just rewards before the time.

The Gospel continues: “And there was, not far from them, an herd of many swine feeding. And the devils besought Him, saying: If Thou cast us out hence, send us into the herd of swine. And He said to them: Go. But they going out went into the swine. And behold the whole herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea: and they perished in the waters.”

The demons ask the Lord if they might go into the herd of swine in order to escape the presence of our blessed Lord, as well as to satiate their desire for destruction, two desires which are common to the demons and to those who serve the demons – the desire to flee from the presence of God, and the desire to destroy. Our Lord permits them and orders them by simply saying: Go.

Let us not forget that if it were in their power, if they were not restrained by the all-powerful Lord, the devils would do far worse things to us than they did to those swine.

But see, though, that our Lord preserves the possessed men in today’s Gospel from being harmed in any way. And though our Lord freed the possessed men from the evil demons who beset them, our Lord also wished the men – and us – to know how great and how malicious the evil and torment that they were delivered from was.

Indeed how great is God’s mercy toward us! There is no country to which He is unwilling to travel for the deliverance of those therein. Indeed He is present everywhere, and He is eager to bestow the freedom of salvation. There is no one whom His providence and His grace can not reach; He eagerly offers to extend His good care to everyone, even to demoniacs in a graveyard, for He is all Good and the Lover of mankind.

Finally, though, the Gospel tells us that swineherds, those who had owned the swine into which the demons had entered and then ran headlong into the sea, the swineherds seeing this fled into the nearby city and told everyone there what had happend. And then, as the Gospel says: “Behold the whole city went out to meet Jesus, and when they saw Him, they besought Him that He would depart from their coasts. And entering into a boat, He passed over the water and came into His own city.”

The swineherds’ flight and their telling of what had happened were meant to be the occasion of evangelization for the city, but they neither understood nor believed, showing themselves to be materialists. Their greatest concern was the matieral loss which they had suffered in losing the herd of swine. Being worried that worse things migh yet befall them materially, they besought the Lord to leave their land.

So for fear of temporal loss, they lost eternal blessings. For fear of the loss of material goods, they lost the presence of the Lord. For our Lord does not abide where He is entreated to leave. He does not impose His saving presence upon anyone.

Since by today’s Gospel we see what evils and how many evils they suffer who subject themselves to materialism, to the slavery of sense-gratification, even to the possession of the demons, let us, in turn, not be possessed by these same passions. Let us not suffer even worse things than the demoniacs by our deliberately and senselessly choosing evil.

Rather, let us follow the Lord’s commandments. Let us adorn ourselves with good morals, let us strive to clothe ourselves with every virtue. By constant remembrance of the Lord, let us flee attachment to this deceitful world.

Let us do good while we still have time; now is the time for action; the future is for recompense. When the bonds of this world have been loosed, and the burden of the flesh is set aside, may we too pass over to the eternal presence of the Lord.

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