I could not help but thinking of our country, much of our world, really, seeming to react toward Jesus the way the Gadarenes reacted to Him at the end of today’s gospel reading (Mt 8:28-34). The Lord travels into their territory, encounters two men who terrorized the entire region, expels enough demons from them to fill a whole herd of pigs, and then is promptly asked to leave the area.
With Jesus’ presence demons flee and are gone for good. Yet as our Savior’s reality is ignored, mocked, and denied, society slips further and further into the clutches of the “prince of this world” (Jn 12:31, 14:30, 16;11). We are now in a time in which, among growing numbers of persons and groups, good is called “intolerant,” “unjustly discriminatory,” and even “hate speech,” while evil is lauded under the guise of “choice,” “inclusiveness,” and even “love.”
Ah! Those who call evil good, and good evil,
who change darkness to light, and light into darkness,
who change bitter to sweet, and sweet into bitter!
…they have rejected the instruction of the LORD of hosts,
and scorned the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Therefore the wrath of the LORD blazes against his people,
he stretches out his hand to strike them.
— Is 5:20, 24b-25a
And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.
— Mt 6:23 (see also Lk 11:35)
When Jesus is asked to leave, He does so, honoring our free (if misguided) will. Is it any wonder that the sheep go astray when the master is no longer the guide?
As happened on the Emmaus road, let us beg the Lord to “stay with us” (Lk 24:29). Our “light must shine before others” (Mt 5:16), never compromising the truth or failing to share fully the truth.
Finally, and at least as importantly, do not forget what the Lord told His disciples when they failed to drive out a demon from an afflicted person:
This kind can only come out through prayer and through fasting.
So, let us redouble our efforts in these two areas so as to hasten the coming of God’s kingdom.