We have heard today the Gospel narrative in which the Lord, having healed many people and even commanded the elements by taming the noise of the wind on the Sea of Galilee, comes to the coastal city of the Gadarenes. Two men come out to meet Him, possessed by unclean spirits, whom the whole city was afraid of. And the demon-possessed people, or rather, the spirits that are in these people, cry out in a loud voice: “Why have You come, Jesus, to torment us before the time? If you want to expel us, then let us enter the herd of pigs that graze on the shore of the lake.”
And the Lord said one word: “Go.” And the demons left the men and entered the animals, and the herd of pigs threw themselves over the precipice into the abyss of the lake and died. The most surprising thing is that, as Matthew the Evangelist says, all the people of the city come out to meet the Lord when they hear about it. What are they asking for? That the Lord will bless them? To enter their city and change their lives? To prophesy to them the word of His Divine truth? We do not hear this request. But we do hear that all the inhabitants of the city are begging the Savior: “Go away from us. Do not enter our city.”
What a contradiction to spiritual logic! The Lord shows His power, the Lord shows His majesty and authority, the Lord shows that He can heal a person, and people beg Him to go away from the borders of their city. Why does this happen? After all, we do not see any hostility in these people, nor any aggression towards the Savior. They simply beg Him, as the Evangelist says, to go away from their city.
Metropolitan Mercury (Ivanov) Whether or not God’s miracles are manifested near us, we remain indifferent and apathetic to God; we are unwilling to let Him into our lives. We manifest in all forms of our lives an estrangement from God. And why? Because without God, as people say, “life is easier.” God brings into our lives something that must inevitably change this life. Once we accept God in our lives and become believers, we accept responsibility for our lives before God and before other people. We are responsible for every day, hour and minute of our lives. We constantly remember that God gave us this life and the power to live here in this world so that we might benefit both our soul and our neighbors. But if we do not know God, it means that we do not know responsibility, it means that we live irresponsibly, we waste our vitality wherever we want, without thinking about the fact that perhaps the hour when God will call us is already near. Such a person can, just like a demoniac, exclaim, “Why did You come before the time to torment me? Maybe there will be a time when You will come, and there will be a Last Judgment, but when will it be? Let me live in peace, go away from me!”
Indifference and apathy to the work of God in the world leads us to the result to which some of the inhabitants of this city of Gadarene came, when an unclean spirit possesses a person and dominates him, driving him to insanity, trying in every possible way to kill him.
Even the herd of pigs, the animals, could not resist this evil act. It was not enough for the demons to mock man and animals—it was necessary to destroy them! And the herd of swine threw themselves into the abyss and perished. Similarly, people who are indifferent to God open the door of their lives, the doors to their hearts to everything unclean and idle. And under the guise of this ease, under the guise of carelessness, under the guise of bliss and relaxation, an unclean spirit enters human life secretly, but truly and effectively, and takes possession of this person. And it does not matter at all that a person does not act the way the Gadarene demoniacs acted, when the inhabitants of Gadarene were afraid to walk past where they lived. It does not matter at all that the devil does not bark and does not howl in a person—he secretly poisons human life, sin poisons it. And the person sinks lower and lower. He becomes more and more spiritually relaxed. And although that person does not behave aggressively towards others, his soul is dying, he is dying for eternal life, and the demon possessing this person is certainly happy about it.
Today’s Gospel makes us think about whether we are with God or without God, and what we say in the face of the Savior: “Come into our life and act in it,” or, “Depart from us and leave us to live the way we want, according to our lusts, passions and vices.” But we choose either eternal life or eternal perdition—already here, on this earth, in front of other people, showing our choice.
God does not come into our lives by force, but when we ourselves open the doors of our hearts to Him, when we want Him to work in our lives, then this work of God will be truly healing. It will free us from every sin and spiritual illness. One word of God is enough for our soul to be healed, but it must be ready to receive this healing, it must long for and seek an encounter with God.
And we who have come to the temple of God, will recall the necessity of our salvation, our responsibility before God and before people around us, and we will say to Him in the conciliar prayer: “Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from all impurity, and save our souls.”