Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time 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 desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.
When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and 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. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:26-39
Halloween is around the corner and the horror movies are flooding the television channels. For some reason, we give ourselves permission to be frightened and scream at this time of the year. I really enjoy Halloween and all the fun that comes with it but I can do without the horror films. Maybe it is because I have been exposed to too many real scary things in my life, maybe the exposure to mental illness in friends and family, maybe - but for whatever reason, I find that horror films just make me sad. There is enough in this world to be frightened about for me.
Today, Jesus comes across a whole village which has been scared to death for years by a very sick young man. His disease is so profound that they isolate him from others and put him in chains. He ran around naked for so long terrorizing the whole community. I don't know what possession really looks like, but having been with folks who are mentally ill and violent, I can imagine their terror. Jesus heals the pitiful young man and send the demons away into the pigs, who in turn toss themselves over the cliff. The pigs cannot bear the torment either. We are invited today to understand the violence and terror that is all too real in many families. We hear and see that God even will cure the worst of the worst and send the torment and pain to its death. What possibilities we find when peace overcomes terror and love puts away violence forever.
I pray this day that God will help me be an agent to end violence and terror. May we live as prayer warriors, taking on even the hardest illnesses and the most painful of situations. May we know that we never pray alone but that God is with us in our silence and our tears, and that God will find a way to bring peace and love where there has been only terror, pain and violence. May God give us all the strength we need to combat the terror and violence in our communities, and invite God to remake us in the image of love.