In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

Today we hear in the Gospel reading a miracle of our Lord’s which is very familiar to most people – the healing of the Gadarine demonic. This was a man possessed by a legion of demons – he was totally consumed by the demons that possessed him. They controlled his every move and action. He lived among the tombs, in the cemetery, with no house, no clothes, when the people tried to contain him and help him, he broke the shackles and ran away. He demonstrates some traits that we would definitely identify as not human.

With Christ’s miracle this morning, we see the power of God on display for all to see. The demons recognize Him as He approaches, and they fear Him. When He commands them to come out of the man, they beg not to be sent into the abyss, not to be punished before the time (before the end of the age when Satan and all of his followers are to be sent into everlasting punishment). The demons ask permission of the Lord to enter into a nearby herd of pigs. It is with the herd as it had been with the man – we see the destructive power and the evil of the demons – the herd immediately rushes down the cliff and drowns in the lake below them.

The Gadarene people’s reaction to this miracle is worth noting – they aren’t happy for the healed man, they aren’t happy to see the overwhelming power of our God – they are scared, they are angry for the loss of their herd, and they ask Christ to leave their city.

This miracle of our Lord’s very much parallels our own struggle in the spiritual life, our own struggles for sanctity in Christ. Just as the demons consumed the life of the man they possessed, our passions consume us and entirely take over the course of our lives. And it should be remembered that the demons are ever active in our lives today, tempting us and always trying to lead us away from Christ. If you look at our lives sometimes, we do act mad, possessed – especially when compared to the life Christ has called us to live.

We live in an age perplexed, where sinful activities are seen as normal, and to behave in any other way is perceived as crazy. There is a saying from the Desert Fathers which goes something like, the Elder says that there will come a time when the people of the world are crazy, and they will point to those who are normal and say, what is wrong with you, you are not like us. This is very much the way the world is today – people are filled with their passions their sins and if we try to overcome our own sins and passions then we are considered to be crazy.

There is another relevant quote by Elder Joseph the Hesychast I’d like us to hear here as well – [Our spiritual situation today] is similar to what happened in the days of idolatry. Back then, if you reviled the idols, they would stone you or put you to a miserable death. Now in our times, every passion has taken the place of an idol. And if you reprove or criticize the passion that you see overcoming each person, they all shout, “Stone him, because he has reviled our gods!”

So this is the situation that we deal with today – a world, including US, consumed with passions, possessed by sin. Christ has come into the world to offer us healing, wholeness, just as dramatic as the healing of Legion – He wants to loose us of our sins and our passions and to seat us, clothed in the garments of righteousness, at the right hand of the Father.

This being loosed from sin and passions is what we know in the Orthodox Church as following the ascetic life of Christ – following His commandments, seeking Him at all times and in all things, preparing ourselves to meet Him through our fasting, prayer, spiritual reading, almsgiving. Just as with the miracle this morning, we are healed only by Christ – He does the healing, which we also cooperate with through our own lives and struggles. Just as the Legion feared Him, so also the demons that assail us also fear Him. As we draw closer to Christ, we become more sane – but the people around us often react similarly to the Gadarenes – they don’t understand what we’re doing.

Aligning ourselves with Christ alienates us from the world – for this reason our desire for Christ has to be a burning desire, salvation must the deepest desire of our soul, we must be willing to sacrifice for Christ – because once we choose Him we become enemies of the way of the world. As we’re healed, we can join the man from today’s Gospel in proclaiming all of the things God has done for us – as St. Paul said in the Epistle, we are taught by God as we’re cleansed of our passions and draw closer to Him.

This is the 1st stage of the spiritual life – casting out the demons and being healed of our passions is simply the 1st step. God has so much more in store for us, revelations and experiences that our still unclean minds can barely grasp, things like we see in the lives of the Saints. I encourage you not to view this casting off of sin as the fullness of life in Christ – we’re meant for so much more. We’re created to share in the very life of God – to be deified even in this life – to grow, there’s nothing static about God or our salvation, to grow in God from glory to glory unto all the ages.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

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