The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (8:28-9:1)
We have become quite familiar with this story of the two demon possessed men and the way that the Lord Jesus Christ chooses to heal them of their terrible infirmity. In modern times many people believe that these gospel stories about demons have nothing at all to do with demons. In our times we are much more likely to see the work of nutrition or mental health or any other possible materialistic explanation for the phenomenon of demons that is observed and recorded in the gospels. Our problem with such explanations is that they do not maintain the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ concerning the existence of demons and their power.
Today the issue of demons is often ignored as a reality and yet it is interesting to see the Roman Catholic Church has said that the occurances of demonic possession are on the rise and that in fact they do not have enough trained exorcists to deal with all of the activity they are seeing.
One of the amazing features of this gospel passage is the way that the herdsmen of the town responded to the casting out of the demons and the healing of the two possessed men. We would imagine that after such an amazing miracle and the sanity that was restored back to these two men, the people would have come in droves to receive the blessing of the Lord Jesus and to investigate this man who held such power and authority. But we know these men to be people who do not know the God of Israel. How do we know this? Because they are pig farmers and pigs were considered unclean and forbidden according to Mosaic law. So they don’t really respond in a surprising way. Their response is what we would expect from those who do not know God. Instead of being awestruck by God’s mercy and His wonders, they are offended by what they perceive as a great loss of income. We could see a similar response here in this country as people may rush out to protest the appointment of the next Supreme Court Justice.
We heard the news this week that Justice Kennedy will be stepping down after 30 years serving this country as a member of the high court. His departure will open up a position that will be filled by the president. For the first time in perhaps a generation, the court has the possibility of being firmly and solidly conservative in their interpretation of the Constitution.
Since this is the case, one of the first issues that might be tested could be the issue of abortion, which is in truth the single most divisive issue of the last 40 years. There have been approximately 60 million abortions in this country since the high court decision of Roe V. Wade. 60 million. To put that into perspective, that is approximately 6 times the number of Jews that died in the holocaust in Nazi Germany. To put it another way, the rough estimates of the number of people killed in the communist Soviet union is placed at somewhere between 60-100 million. As a nation, we’ve almost equalled those atrocities in half the time.
So it is a big deal that there will be a new Supreme Court Justice and it is possible that many will be up in arms and will protest the newest pick. Why? Because like the herdsmen in today’s gospel, they are people who do not know God or His will. In addition I would like to say that also like those herdsmen, there are organizations that stand to lose billions of dollars if procedures like abortion are greatly reduced and limited only to medical necessity. Why am I telling you this? Because it is high time that we as the people of God wake up and refuse to be taught by those who have alternate forms of morality and are not themselves taught by the word of Christ.
We might hear that abortion is about women’s rights. What right does a woman have over another human’s life? What right does a mother have besides caring for her own flesh and blood? If she does not want to be a mother, she can give the child up for adoption and there will be thousands who offer to take her. We might hear people claim that the government has no right to tell a woman what to do with her body. Only, the government isn’t concerned with the woman’s body, but with the body of the other human that is dwelling within her. The concern is with respecting all people, no matter their age and protecting those who have no voice and cannot protect themselves.
Where do we get these teachings? From Christ the Lord and from the saints and holy fathers of the Church. And they are still revolutionary in their power to shake up society and culture and restore our identity as a country that loves and lives by the teachings of Jesus Christ first and foremost.
Pray. Millions upon millions of lives are at stake. Pray fervently, daily, during this time of societal struggle that the Lord’s will be done. Pray that our country will wake from the fog of ungodliness and that the Lord would remove the demons that possess our culture and offer us His healing and sanity in their place. And Glory be to God forever AMEN.