23rd  Sunday after Pentecost

The Gadarene Demoniac

In the name of the Father, and the son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Today is the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost and on this day we read about
the Gadarene demoniac. Why are we told this story? Why are we told any
of the stories in the Scriptures? Of course, they are all for our
salvation, and they all tell us something necessary. In this story we
see the power of God, and how by a word he can cast out demons. We see
the ultimate powerlessness of the demons. We see how fearful they are of
our savior, and we see how incredibly evil they are toward man and even
unto beasts. We also see something that should make us fear, so that we
do not become  like these people v we see the brutishness, the
swinishness of unbelievers. It is amazing how these  people reacted  to
a great miracle in their midst. And there is another lesson here, a
terrible lesson, a necessary lesson in free will. God created us so that
we would know Him, but He has not forced  us to follow His commandments.
Some choose to follow His commandments, and some choose to ask Him to
leave. He  will indeed leave those who ask Him to leave -

So listen carefully to the words of this story, and see  what God wants
you to know. Listening carefully is  not something that is  easy to come
by, especially in our society. We are not a very verbal society anymore.
We value more the written word, and when we see and hear things, they
are images that flash  by the screen so rapidly or change so quickly on
the radio. There is so much  inundation of information upon us that we
do not know how to listen to things that are holy v this is just more
common information to us. Well, the  most important information that you
can get the entire week is what you hear in the liturgy today, and what
you heard in the vigil  last night. This is the  time when you should
pay more attention than any other time in your life, during the divine
liturgy, and when the holy scriptures are being read, and when they are
being discussed. 

The story begins ?And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes.¦
When  we read the  context, we can see this is right after the Lord had
preached about the sower, then they got into a ship. When they crossed
over, during that time, there was a storm, and the apostles were
terrified even though He was in the  ship with them There was another
time when He came walking across the water in a storm; that was a
difference occurrence. He is asleep in the ship, and the apostles,
despite the fact that the God-man was with them, were terrified, and
they said ?Master, Master, we perish.¦ And He rebuked them because of
their unbelief. How can  you think you are perishing when Christ is
right with you? 

So they came over to the other side of the lake, in the region of the
Gadarenes, and ?there met him out of the city a certain man, which had
devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but
in the tombs.¦ No  clothes v the man had no shame, the man had no
virtue. He  was not clothed in virtue. We know that clothing can often
signify virtue. Recall the wedding garment. One is given  to everyone
who enters the wedding feast, and it signifies baptism for us, and the
life lived in Christ. And the man who did not have a wedding garment,
who had cast it aside, was cast out with the unbelievers, because he
acted like an unbeliever. Even if he appeared in the assembly of
believers, by his actions he showed who he really was, and what he was

This demonized man had no virtue, he was not clothed in virtue, nor in
the waters of baptism, which allow us to live in virtue. Also, having no
clothes is a sign of  having no reason. The are intelligent creatures,
but they are not reasonable, or rational. Their hatred is as high as the
mountains, they are filled to the brim with irrational hatred every 
moment of their existence. 

This man dwelt in the tombs. Part of the reason, the fathers say, that
demoniacs dwelt in the tombs is that the devil wanted to plant a fable
in the heart if man that from the dead came demons, and that graveyards
were noxious and evil places, and people were afraid of them. The devil
does not really want you to know how the demons come about and how they
perform their activities. He wants this to be steeped in folklore. He
does not want you to know that if a man does not follow Christ, he opens
himself up to the demons, so he plants these kind of  fables in the
heart of man, and you can see them in every culture, in every tradition.
This demonology  often has a grain of truth in it, but generally it is
quite false, because it does not get to the root of why demons besiege

Also, those who are without  virtue, those who are without reason, those
who do not follow Christ are already  dead. They may as well be in a
graveyard. The demons are the most dead of all creatures, and tombs
symbolize evil places, fetid places, dark places full of wickedness.
This indeed was an apt  place for such a man to dwell, and of course, he
could not be allowed to dwell in the city because of his uncontrollable 
actions, and people were afraid of him. So he was an outcast. He  was
outside the city, outside of salvation, outside of the church. 

Our Lord rebuked  him, then he asked his name. He did not need to ask
his name. Our Lord knows everything. He answered ?Legion¦, many, many
demons. Men can sink very low. 

Now, why did he have devils? This is a question  that is very difficult
to answer. Different people might have  devils for different reasons.
St. Mary Magdalene had seven devils. This was not because of
unrighteousness. In her case, the devil, who thinks he is so 
intelligent, was fooled, and he thought that she was to be the bearer of
Christ, so he inhabited her, against her will with demons, in order to
make her fall into fornication (she never did, by the way). And she
suffered grievously from these demons. Our Lord cast these demons out of
her, and she followed him till the end of her days. She was part of the
entourage that took care of all of the physical  necessities of our Lord
and His disciples throughout  His ministry, and she was given the grace
to become ?equal to the apostles¦.

This man may not have been  demonized because of his unrighteousness
either. We don-t know. It could have been because of the judgment that
God was passing on that area. These people were not following the law.
They  kept swine, which was unlawful to do, because they were Jews, and
they were more concerned with profit than following the law of God. 

The fathers also think that this man was demonized as an  example of how
terrible the demons can be, and how great the mercy of God can be. Now,
be careful how you judge. Don-t judge according to your own wisdom,
according to the external circumstances, according only to what you read
in the scriptures, without consulting the wisdom of the church. The
Psalmist says ¦Thy judgments are a vast abyss.¦ We cannot understand why
certain things happen  to people, why some people are sick, why some are
demonized, why some people  die early, why the wicked wax old and fat.
It is hard to understand these things, but God knows. We must only

So this man may have been demonized because  of the evil of the people,
and not because of his own unrighteousness. As we can see later  on,
once he had the demons expelled from him, he had great love for our
Savior,  and great obedience. 

So, when this man saw Jesus, ?he cried out, and fell down before him,
and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son
of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. Of course, the man-s
voice was  being used by the demons. It is amazing how foolish the
demons are. Can you see  how they indeed have nothing in common with our
Lord? Such impudence!, to say -what have I to do with you-, and such
cowardice - -Don-t torment me-. And such knowledge! They KNOW! They know
exactly  what is going to happen to them. They are trying to forestall
the inevitable.  They know that  they will be cast into the abyss. They
know that they will be tormented, and they ARE NOT GOING TO CHANGE. That
is where their fear comes in. In the  midst of their impudence, in the
midst of their braggadocio, they are terrified, because they see the
God-man standing before them. Some people are also like the demons. They
KNOW Who He is,  and they know something of the commandments of God, BUT
THEY DON-T WANT TO CHANGE. Because of this, they are afraid. This is not
the fear of God that brings forth wisdom, but the fear of  a man who
does wrong and does not want to change.

?And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and
they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he
suffered them.  Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into
the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake,
and were choked.¦ Our Lord allowed  this to happen as an example, to
show how truly evil AND powerless the demons are. They cannot even
control swine. They enraged and frightened the swine so much that they
ended up in the abyss, where that had begged not to be anyway. Now, if 
you can see how truly evil the demons are from this example, set forth
for our edification, then how can  you want any part with them? Am I
saying this to Christians? Yes indeed! Because, we often have  concourse
with the demons, whenever we give ourselves over to our sins, whenever 
we give ourselves over to the nakedness of this man, the nakedness of
virtue, and fulfill in ourselves our own desires and not the
commandments of God. Then we are becoming like unto the demons. The word
Devil, ?Diabolos¦ means ?Slanderer¦. He  is a liar. I tell my children
that -whenever you lie, you are acting like a demon-. How can you want
to act like such an evil creature, and such a smelly and fetid creature,
dark and black? 

We see that there were many demons - there were enough to inhabit a
whole herd of swine. And we see the judgment against  these people,
because Christ, shall we say, -killed two birds with one stone-. He not
only healed the man, but He also showed these people where they were
erring, because they were keeping swine against the Jewish law. So, He
took away their profit. He took away that which was causing them to sin.
They should have considered this to be a favor, in that He saved them
from their wretchedness, but what happened? 

?When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told
it in the city and in the country.¦ They fled! I can think of another
occurrence where someone saw their sin, but she  did not flee! She ran
to the city and she said, ?Come, see a man, which told me all things
that ever I did: is not this the Christ?¦ I am referring to St. Photini,
the Samaritan women at the well. Our Lord showed he that he  knew of her
sins. He knew that she had previously had five husbands, and that the
man she was living with was not her husband, and He showed how  much He
knew. She reacted with love. She reacted by becoming apostle by
proclaiming that the Messiah was among them! 

But these swine herders v their profit had been removed from them. Their
livelihood in the trafficking in illicit goods was removed from them, so
they fled, and went to tell their  superiors about this tragedy that had
befallen their commerce. These people saw the power of God, and they
were afraid! They were afraid because of their sins, and because of
their stubbornness, because they DON-T WANT TO CHANGE. They saw that the
God-man, Jesus Christ requires  change in a man. This is a fundamental
principle of Christianity. As you are enlightened with the knowledge of
God, you  must act in accordance with that knowledge! 

?Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found
the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of
Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.¦ Now he 
had his clothing on, and his reason had returned to him and he was doing
what any man should do when  he sees what great things God has done for
him v he sits at His feet, drinking in every word, adoring Him, with
thanksgiving . He was beginning the Christina life. I tell you, this man
could have fallen back into the abyss, where  he had come from. In
another place in St. Luke-s gospel, our Lord describes what happens to
an unrepentant man, even a man who has demons taken out of him: ?When
the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places,
seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house
whence I came out.  And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and
garnished.  Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more
wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last
state of that man is worse than the first.¦ So this man had to embark
upon the life of virtue now. Now that he had removed from him  this
impediment that made it so difficult for his to believe and to act
virtuously, he OWED Christ obedience, and  he gave it freely, as we can
see in the Gospel. He desired very greatly to follow Him, but our Lord,
for reasons known only to Him,  refused him, and asked  him to be an
apostle in that area by proclaiming what great  things God had done for
him, and indeed he did that. 

What should have happened with these people? How should they have
reacted? How did the Samaritans react when St. Photini told them about
Christ? Like the Gadarenes, they came out to investigate, but the
similarity ends there. It says, ?So when the Samaritans were come unto
him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there
two days. And many more believed because of his own word.¦ And, in
another place,  there was one out of ten lepers who gave thanks to God:
?And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with
a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet,
giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. That is what should have
happened when these people saw that their sinful trade had been
destroyed, and God had judged that they  should not do such a thing, but
He had not destroyed them. He had only destroyed that which was CAUSING
their own destruction!

?They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of
the devils was healed.¦ So the swine herders went to their masters and
they told them what happened. These men were very afraid then, and this
was an evil, wicked kind of fear. This was the fear of a person who does
not want to see the light, does not want to  have his deeds exposed,
does not want to have his life changed. They did not focus so much on
the grace and the power of God, as on the fact that He was getting into
their business. He was requiring of them something. He was intervening
in their  lives, and they wanted Him out. They wanted Him to LEAVE THEM

?Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about
besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear:¦
Tragic! Absolutely tragic! They had the God-man among them, and He had
showed them what was wrong  with their life, in a quite gentle way, and
they wanted nothing of Him. They did not want Him around.  

Evil hates the light. Evil  does not want to be around the light, partly
because it does not understand it.	 St. John talks about this: ?In him¦,
that is, in Christ, ? was life; and the life was the light of men. And
the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.¦
There are those who just don-t understand, and I tell you, most people
who do not understand do not WANT to understand, because if you
understand, you must go to the next step, and you must ACT IN ACCORDANCE
WITH YOUR UNDERSTANDING! People don-t want to do that. Even people  who
call themselves Christians don-t want to do that. And all of us, to some
extent, in some way, try to cover up knowledge, so we don-t have to act
in accordance with that knowledge. 

This is part of the reason why  confession is so important. It is so
easy to hide within ourselves our sins, but it is much more difficult
when we are required to tell them to someone else, especially if that
person questions, and asks, and even challenges. At least, if we have
enough shame so that we will not tell lies then, God will show us what
is truly wrong with us. 

It also says about those who do and do not want to follow Christ, ?He
that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is
condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only
begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come
into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their
deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither
cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.¦  That is 
exactly how these people acted. They wanted the light to go away, so
they could hide. They thought they could hide. They thought  if He would
go away, they could continue their trade, they could  get more swine,
and they could go on with life as it was before. They should listen more
carefully to what their Messiah has said: ?Therefore whatsoever ye have
spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have
spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.¦
There is no hiding from the knowledge of God. You can delay it for some
period of time, but eventually, all things will be made known, all
things will be made  manifest. All sins will be made known, and those
sins that have been unconfessed, those sins that have been hidden and
hoarded will cause great pain, and will gnaw at us in the next life if
we do not repent. 

Now we come to the most terrible section of this reading. It is very
short, and very bitter. ¦And he went up into the ship, and returned back
again.¦ He offered them salvation, and they denied Him. So He said, ?All
right, I will leave-. And God will leave, and the Holy Spirit will leave
from us, when we do not prepare a place for Him, and repent of our 
sins, so as to keep that place clean, and garnished. If you don-t want
Him, He will leave. 

But notice, how merciful He is, in still  giving those Gadarene ?swine¦
and chance for their salvation, because it says: ?Now the man out of
whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him:
but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and show how
great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published
throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.¦ So
he was giving  these people another chance. This man might have gained
some converts over time. Some of these people-s hardened hearts might
have softened and they might have some to an understanding of what the
Lord had done for them, and they might have become Christians. 

God help us to learn from this example, to not act like swine, to not
push God away when He shows us something that is wrong with us, whether
it be when we are reading in the scriptures, or we are hearing in the
services something that touches  our heart, or where God most often
tells us what is wrong with us. This is through our relationships with
others, and especially our relationship with our confessor. This is a
tough relationship to have. You know, I have a confessor to. This is not
an easy relationship to have, to bare yourself and to show what is wrong
with you. We always want to show the good side of ourselves. It is also
not easy to take instruction. When he tells me to do something, I don-t
always like what he tells me, but if I don-t do it, then I will be
acting  upon my own wisdom, and I will fall, and I will probably, most
likely perish. I will certainly perish if I disobey him constantly, but
even the smallest disobedience can lead to a greater disobedience. and I
can fall farther and farther, and the same principle applies to every
Christian, even to a Patriarch. We must be obedient to what God is
telling us, and God speaks through simple, sinful men. 

God help us to truly follow Christ, and to not be  like these Gadarene
swine keepers, but when we see something wrong with us, we would cleave
to Christ, and we would be healed. Amen. 


Drops From the Living Water - Pp. 168-171

The One Thing Needful - Pp. 143-146

Old Believer Sermon for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost (unpublished)

Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, St. Cyril, Patriarch of
Alexandria, Pp.  190-194

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23rd  Sunday after Pentecost

The Gadarene Demoniac


23rd  Sunday after Pentecost

The Gadarene Demoniac

 This homily was transcribed from one given On October Tenth, 1996
according to the church calendar, being the Twenty Third Sunday after
Pentecost,. and the day appointed for the commemoration of Holy Martyr
Terrence and family, St. Stephen the writer of hymns, and St. Paresceva,
among others.  The entire Gospel is: Luke 8:26-39. There are some
stylistic changes and minor corrections made and several footnotes have
been added, but otherwise, it is essentially in a colloquial, ?spoken¦
style. It is hoped that something in these words will help and edify the
reader, but a sermon read from a page cannot enlighten a soul as much as
attendance and reverent worship at the Vigil service, which prepares the
soul for the Holy Liturgy, and the hearing of the scriptures and the
preaching of them in the context of the Holy Divine Liturgy. In such
circumstances the soul is enlightened much more than when words are read
on a page. 

 Luke 8:26

 Luke 8:24

 Luke 8:27

 Cf. Mark 16:9

 The title ?Equal to the Apostles¦ is given to certain holy ones because
of their great, apostolic and evangelical labors. Other saints so named
are St. Abercius and St. Vladimir. There are many more examples.

 Psalm 35:6

 Luke 8:28

 Cf. Psalm 111:10

 Luke 8:32-33

 Luke 8:34

 John 4:29

 Luke 8:35

 Luke 11:24-26

 John 4:40-41

 Luke 17:15-16

 Luke 8:36

 Luke 8:37

 John 1:4-5

 John 3:18-20

 Luke 12:3

 Cf. Luke 8:17

 Luke 8:37

 Luke 8:38-39