When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. -Luke 8:39
There is a version of the story of the Gerasenes demoniac in each of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). Each tells a tale of a very chaotic encounter. There’s a scary man, naked, screaming, hitting himself with stones. The townspeople are afraid of him, and try everything to restrain him, but he breaks any chain and continues to wail and walk about the tombs. Jesus meets him and tells the legion of demons to leave the man alone. The demons recognize Jesus’ power and ask that they be permitted to enter into a herd of pigs on the hillside instead of being banished. Jesus says ok and the demons enter the pigs, causing the pigs to lose their minds and they run down the hill and drown in the water.
After all this drama, the townspeople, having heard what happened, come out to find that the man, formerly possessed, is sitting quietly by Jesus’ side, now in his right mind. I am always struck that the story notes that seeing this makes the townspeople afraid. Not only were have they been afraid of the scary possessed man for many years, they’re also scared now that he’s calm, clothed, and in his right mind.
Everyone has demons in life, and we can sometimes get pretty used to them. They may be scary and awful demons, but at least they’re our scary and awful demons. Sometimes change feels more frightening than just sticking with the familiar demons. Sometimes we would even rather die than change.
Christ bring transformation into our lives and our communities, and sometimes that’s scary! We might find ourselves focusing on the chaos that is all around us during times of change instead of on the healing and positive change that is also always occurring among us. The people of Gerasene not only completely overlooked the significant healing that had happened for the poor possessed man, but they also begged Jesus to leave them alone!
I pray that in this chaotic time, we can remember to focus our attention on the love of Christ for us all and share that love with others instead of lathering up and growing the the fear that is around us even more.
Our readings for this Sunday are HERE. Note that during ordinary time this year, we will be using Track 2