When Jesus reached Gadara on the other side, He was met by two demoniacs who came out from the tombs. They were so fierce that no one dared to pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, «What do you want with us, you, Son of God? Have you come to torture us before the time?». At some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding. So the demons begged him, «If you drive us out, send us into that herd of pigs». Jesus ordered them, «Go». So they left and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned. The men in charge of them ran off to the town, where they told the whole story, also what had happened to the men possessed with the demons. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their area.
Every divine encounter is basically for the salvation. It may be especially for the one who receives or for the other through this individual. To profit from this divine encounter, we should receive this gift gracefully.
The divine presence removes all kinds of darkness in our lives, including sin and all the works of the author of darkness. It is here that we are called to be vigilant and conscious. Devil can put into our heart evil thoughts in the name of good. In today’s gospel, we find explicitly the work of devil in the request of the people of this village.
In our discernment, we should be aware and ready to lose something for a greater glory of God and for our own goodness. If we don’t learn to empty ourselves, God can’t fill it without our will. In this story there is another inside story of incarnation. God listens to all and wishes that all be saved. He gives this wonderful opportunity to be converted and to be saved, to all, even to the worst sinner.
«They begged him to leave their area»
Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench
(Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, we are given to contemplate a sad contrast. “Contrast” because we admire the power and divine majesty of Jesus Christ, whom the demons submit voluntarily to (a signal that the Kingdom of the Heavens has reached us). But, at the same time, we deplore the narrowness and stinginess which the human heart is capable of, when refusing the bearer of Good News: «The whole town went out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their area» (Mt 8:34). And “sad” because «He himself, who is the true light (...) came to his own, and his own did not receive him» (Jn 1:9-11).
More contrast and more confusion when we pay attention to the fact that man is free and this freedom has the “power to halt” God's infinite power. Or we can put it another way: the infinite divine powers reach as far as our “powerful” freedom allows it. And this is so because God mainly loves us with a Father's love. As a Father, we should not be surprised that He is so respectful of our freedom: He does not impose his love upon us, He just proposes it to us.
God, with infinite wisdom and goodness, providentially rules the Universe while respecting our freedom; even when this freedom turns its back on him and does not want to accept his will. Contrary to what it may seem, He does not let the world out of his hands: God always brings everything to a good conclusion, despite all hindrances we can raise against him. In fact, these hindrances are, first of all, turning against us.
However, we can affirm, «in the face of human freedom God has wanted to become “impotent”. And it can be said God pays for the great gift [our freedom] given to a being created in his image and likeness [man]» (John Paul II). God pays!: if we throw him out, He obeys and goes away. He pays, but we lose. On the other hand, we do well when we respond like the Virgin Mary: «I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said» (Lk 1:38).