We feel powerless when life’s storms rage about us. Despite our best efforts, we cannot navigate those dangers without the hand of God to guide and free us.
In the gospel, the man with demons was unable to help himself. His affliction had caused him to be chained and shackled by his community. Yet even that could not control the raging evil within him. He remained helpless and ostracized on his own until he was emancipated by the power of God in Christ. Even though he was an outsider from the land of the Geresenes, Jesus came to his aid. He cast out the legion of demons in the man and sent them into the nearby herd of pigs, who then flung themselves off the bank. Though that dramatic event caused fear and confusion, the man was at last set free and commissioned by Jesus as a witness to his stunning liberation.
Paul reflects on the human condition of being “imprisoned” and “guarded” and the necessity of Christ to restore us. He reminds us of the power of our baptism to free and unite us. The text goes on to make the radically inclusive statement that there is no longer “Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).
Together, these texts recount the journey of faith from bondage to freedom, from separation to unity, from death to new life. And this is a path open to all, no matter who we are or from whence we’ve come. The scriptures energize us to join that man in the gospel who went out proclaiming “how much Jesus had done for him,” even to those who would rather not hear it.
Gospel: Luke 8:26-39
Jesus’ mission includes foreigners, and his authority extends to the casting out of demons. Some who witness Jesus’ work are seized with confusion and fear, but the man who was healed is commissioned to give testimony of God’s mercy and power.
26Then [Jesus and his disciples] arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”—29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and 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. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.