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Father Gavril Galev: The people of Gadarene

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In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

We have spoken many times about this Gospel reading (Luke 8:26-39), but as they say – repetition is the mother of knowledge, we will talk about its meaning again so for those who have not heard this explanation – may they hear it now. These people were Gadarenes and although by the old law pigs were considered unclean animals and should have not been kept, they disrespected that law and raised them for food. In a figurative sense, the pigs are our passions that we nurture within us. These are the passions of self-indulgence: covetousness and love for pleasures.

 

As a result of that sinful life, the demon had great power over them, so that in one of them, and in another Gospel reading it is said that they were two, the demons entered and settled in those people. By the demonic force, they were even resistant to any natural disaster. They could not fit in the community, so they lived alone, in deserted places, in cemeteries, they walked barefoot and although they were chained, they had so much strength that they would tear the chains apart. However, God is merciful and does not forget anyone. Thus He did not forget and He visited these people, who lived in fornication and debauchery. He took pity on the demon-possessed (demoniac) man and ordered the demon to come out of him. However, for the testimony of the others, He asked him what his name was, because God, The Lord Jesus Christ knew that it was not him, but someone else living in him and controlling him. According to the answer, it was not one, but a whole legion, a whole army of demons and that is why that man behaved like that.

With this God shows us that not every sin is from man. The source of sin is the demon, however man, because of his weaknesses and negligence, allows the demon to enter and rule over him. According to how much one will allow the demon to rule over him, that is how much power the demon has over that man. That is why each of us needs to be very careful.

Let us dedicate our lives, first of all, to God – “Let us entrust ourselves and our whole life unto Christ our God”(Liturgical text). But that entrustment of our life to God means to think of Him, to pray to Him, and to create deeds of God in communion with all, together. We cannot say that we love God, but we hate and do evil to our fellow man (neighbour). In this way, we either expel or make God present, like these Gadarenes. God freed their people from demon possession and they became sane and clothed they sat at the feet of Jesus, meaning that they turned to God. When reading this part of the Gospel a picture of kindness appears, as they as little children sit at the feet of Jesus and they caressing to God, rejoicing in His proximity. This actually can be felt, above all, in the heart. Thus in our lives, the closer we are to God, the more space we give to God in our lives and our hearts and in all that is ours – the more we feel like little children playing around the throne of God. They feel joy, they are always with a cheerful heart and they are free from any weight in this world and age.

Same happened with this demoniac, or these two demoniac people, whom God healed. But those (people from Gadarene) who called themselves healthy, in fact showed a great unhealthiness and irrationality, instead of rejoicing that their brothers, children, relatives or friends are now healthy and now they can live with them, they can rejoice together in everything with them, they can be happy to rejoice in life and glorify God – pigs were more important to them. A flock of pigs was lost, drowning because they could not bear the demons that God had cast out of the man. They ran downhill into the water and drowned. That is why Gadareans considered it a great lost. So, those who were healthy and reasonable show a great sickness and irrationality, and instead of glorifying God for it, they gathered and decided to expel Him from their midst. Because, as I said, they were much happier to serve their passions, to please themselves, and thus man closes himself to God.

Every service to ourselves, the rejection of God’s will from our lives, the rejection of the ascetic-hesychastic struggle (effort) and life, is in fact the rejection of Jesus Christ from our lives. Then we will be also irrational like these Gadareans. Yet again and again and again God is merciful and never forgets us. This healed man wanted to follow Jesus Christ, which is natural, but God sent him back and made him an apostle. He made him a messenger in his place to preach and testify the greatness of God, so that little by little all others who were in the darkness of not knowing the truth should be enlightened and realise that Jesus Christ is the true God and Saviour. In the same way, we should differentiate things in our life. Let us try as much as possible to make God present in our life, as I said, above all with our thoughts, with our prayer, with our life in the virtuous and sacramental life in the Church itself. Let us pray to God, let us pray, may God enlighten us too, because as long as we serve the passions, we also serve the demon and we do not know God completely.

May God enlighten and free us from the passions, and all our fellow men, and all people all over the world may they get to know God and glorify Him. Amen.

 

Fr. Gavril Galev

Abbot of the monastery “St. Clement of Ohrid”,

Kinglake, Melbourne, Australia

This homily was spoken on the day of St. Dimitrij form Solun (08.11.2015) in the monastery of St. Naum of Ohrid


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