Reflections for the Week of June 19, 2016 Fifth after Pentecost

Gospel: Luke 8.26-39.

This narrative tells of the Lord Jesus’ encounter with a demoniac (a man possessed by a demon) in the land of the Gerasenes across the northern end of the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum. It was Gentile country (we know this from the fact that the people were keeping pigs). The demoniac was crazy and violent and had been dwelling alone among tombs. He had been chained and shackled in the past but had broken his bonds. On seeing Jesus he called Him the Son of the Most High God and begged Him not to torment him. Jesus asked him his name and he said it was ‘Legion’ for many demons had entered him. A legion in the Roman army may have had a thousand or more soldiers. When Jesus exorcised the evil spirits, He sent them into a herd of swine feeding on the hillside. The herd ran into the sea and was drowned. The man was healed of the demon possession and was sitting quietly by Jesus when the villagers arrived to see what had prompted the stampede of their pigs. The people were afraid of Jesus’ power and asked Him to leave them. The erstwhile demoniac wanted to go with Jesus but Jesus sent him home, and he told everyone what Jesus had dome for him. We don’t see many people who are demon-possessed these days (or at least we don’t recognize them). But there are many who suffer from guilt, anxiety, anger, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and depression. Many of these may have a spiritual component. I was in touch with a man named Stephen Morin years ago who kidnapped a beautiful young blonde married woman from El Paso whom I knew and said he would kill her and had killed two other young blonde women earlier. She told him God had sent him to her so she could convert him, which she did by playing him a number of gospel tapes as they sat in her car. He released her and was arrested, tried, found guilty and was executed. He told me that he was raised by a beautiful young mother who was an addict and a prostitute and he was badly abused growing up. Was he demon possessed? His problem was surely spiritual. Jesus came to heal our problems, whether physical, psychological, or spiritual. For Him to be successful we need to have faith in Him which means to know that He is God the Son and to trust Him that He wants to heal us. We need to cultivate a relationship with Him by spending time with Him daily. I think we need to come to believe that His Spirit dwells within us (Lk 17.21) and we can be in touch with Him. He is one of the three Persons of the Triune Godhead with divine power to guide us, transform us, heal us, and empower us to become like Him. Do we want that? He came for that very reason. When we consider our roles as disciples, and what this story of Jesus can teach us, do we go to those with whom we live and tell them about what Jesus has done for us? Have we really stopped to consider what He has done for us? Are we willing to tell our story? If not, why not? Maybe our problem is that we have not taken the time to carefully consider just what He has done for us. Maybe we have not taken the time to be with Him to find out what a difference He can make. Maybe we don’t turn to Him with our problems and ask Him to help. Maybe if we did, we would be surprised at the results. James says we don’t have because we don’t ask (Jas 4.2). I’ve come to believe that there are many who really don’t know much about the Lord and our faith and what spiritual power really means in one’s life. Attending church regularly is good but one hour a week of listening to homilies and worshiping the Lord can only go so far. Most people need to have an opportunity to sit down with other Christians to dialogue and make an intentional effort to learn about our faith and share it with others.

Memory Verse: He [Jesus] said to them, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16.15).

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