究竟什麼是無底坑?什麼是深淵?

就是神無盡的愛。

愛神愛人的,那深淵就是天堂;

恨神恨人的,那深淵就是地獄。

 

 

主日經文

 

提摩太後書2:1-10

我兒啊,你要在基督耶穌的恩典上剛強起來。你在許多見證人面前聽見我所教訓的,也要交託那忠心能教導別人的人。你要和我同受苦難,好像基督耶穌的精兵。凡在軍中當兵的,不將世務纏身,好叫那招他當兵的人喜悅。人若在場上比武,非按規矩,就不能得冠冕。勞力的農夫,理當先得糧食。我所說的話你要思想,因為凡事主必給你聰明。你要記念耶穌基督乃是大衛的後裔,他從死裡復活,正合乎我所傳的福音。我為這福音受苦難,甚至被捆綁,像犯人一樣。然而神的道卻不被捆綁。所以我為選民凡事忍耐,叫他們也可以得著那在基督耶穌裡的救恩和永遠的榮耀。

 

路加福音 8:26-39

他們到了格拉森(有古卷:加大拉)人的地方,就是加利利的對面。耶穌上了岸,就有城裡一個被鬼附著的人迎面而來。這個人許久不穿衣服,不住房子,只住在墳塋裡。他見了耶穌,就俯伏在他面前,大聲喊叫,說:至高神的兒子耶穌,我與你有什麼相干?求你不要叫我受苦!是因耶穌曾吩咐污鬼從那人身上出來。原來這鬼屢次抓住他;他常被人看守,又被鐵鍊和腳鐐捆鎖,他竟把鎖鍊掙斷,被鬼趕到曠野去。耶穌問他說:你名叫什麼?他說:我名叫群;這是因為附著他的鬼多。鬼就央求耶穌,不要吩咐他們到無底坑裡去。那裡有一大群豬在山上吃食。鬼央求耶穌,准他們進入豬裡去。耶穌准了他們,鬼就從那人出來,進入豬裡去。於是那群豬闖下山崖,投在湖裡淹死了。放豬的看見這事就逃跑了,去告訴城裡和鄉下的人。眾人出來要看是什麼事;到了耶穌那裡,看見鬼所離開的那人,坐在耶穌腳前,穿著衣服,心裡明白過來,他們就害怕。看見這事的便將被鬼附著的人怎麼得救告訴他們。格拉森四圍的人,因為害怕得很,都求耶穌離開他們;耶穌就上船回去了。鬼所離開的那人懇求和耶穌同在;耶穌卻打發他回去,說:你回家去,傳說神為你做了何等大的事。他就去,滿城裡傳揚耶穌為他做了何等大的事。

 

李亮神父講道:

 

這段福音書是講述耶穌基督遇到魔鬼,對今天來訪的心理系學生而言,應是特別有趣的一段經節。耶穌前往的村落,在那不只一人遇到問題,而是整個村落都缺乏憐憫心,多數村民都在邪惡的挾制之下,這具有很深涵義。有個人因著不明原因,或許是因為壞習慣或是其他因素,使許多鬼附在他身上。

 

但我們可從中看到一些深奧道理:魔鬼如何影響人。首先看到的是那個人迷失了自己,鬼占了他的身心。我們要知道神從不「占據」我們,祂尊重我們的自由。即使聖靈臨到我們,我們也絕不會失去我們的思想意識。我會如此說,是因為在台灣常聽聞有人被聖靈擊倒,但這不是從神來的。神會以智慧和喜樂充滿我們的心,但你不會失去思想意識。你可能會變得充滿愛,但不會大吼大叫,你不會說出你自己都不明白的事。

 

還有一些其他的事情發生在這個人身上,因為魔鬼,他赤身露體。亞當夏娃在墮落之後,他們明白了自己的赤身露體;而在這裡我們看到這個人赤身露體、失去一切:在他身上沒有任何尊重、沒有任何榮耀,他失去一切。此外我們也可看見這個人一直在製造麻煩,所以別人把他用鍊子鍊住,避免他繼續到處破壞。但因為魔鬼很有力量,所以這個人力大無窮,甚至可以掙開鎖鏈。

 

最糟糕的是這個人的人際狀況,他不是住在城鎮中,而是住在墓地間。魔鬼要人住在死亡之地,而非活人之地。若魔鬼有能力殺死這個人,牠便會這樣做,但很重要的是,牠沒有能力這樣做。當今的電影,你可看見很多現代社會中的病態,人們迷戀吸血鬼和德古拉,喜歡看這樣的電影,看這種無關於愛的電影,去看電影不是為了增進親友間的情誼,也不是為了激發創意,反倒是走進充斥死亡的電影院。腦海中的影像,讓人嚐到、感受到魔鬼,引著人邁向死亡。當我提到死亡,我指的不是軀體的死亡,而是關係的死亡。因為當人失去了與人的關係,其實就是一種死亡狀態。

 

你如果是一個善於拍片的電影導演,你就會明白其中明顯的符號象徵。耶穌要進去的地方是墓地,而你看到被鬼附的人,則實際上就是在描繪人性現況。有人寫過這樣一段話「主你要去哪兒?你是前往我們住的城鎮,或是要去墳墓,那個魔鬼占據的地方?在你前往的森林中,該隱殺死了他的弟弟。」有首很有名的黑人靈歌中就提到這句話「主你要去哪兒?」。

 

所以當我們看到耶穌遇到魔鬼時,祂吩咐牠離開人。但我們也看到福音書說魔鬼使得那人大聲喊叫,俯伏在耶穌面前說:「神的兒子耶穌,我與你有什麼相干?」這顯示魔鬼知道神是誰,所以有二種知識,二種方式認識神。我們應該記得,這時使徒和其他人並不知道耶穌是神的兒子,他們以為祂只是個很特別的人,還不夠了解耶穌。

 

從另一個角度我們也可以問-魔鬼是否相信神?例如:若我們相信耶穌是神的兒子,魔鬼也知道這件事的條件下,這樣牠是否可謂基督徒。答案是不行,牠不可被視為基督徒,因為基督徒是端看你「如何」認識這位神。如果你認識神只是將祂視為權力,這就只是屬魔鬼的知識。神要我們認識祂是三一,祂是愛,而不是將祂視為權力。這是為何甚至有些基督徒可能會說他們相信基督,也去教會,但他們的相信卻和魔鬼一樣,因為他們視神為一種他們可以試圖掌控的權力。他們要神為他們完成一些心願,他們也就報答神一些事。所以我們應注意,當我們信神時,要明白神是愛,這才是基督徒的「相信」。魔鬼的「相信」則完全是另一回事,牠們相信神是權力,並且恐懼戰驚。

 

一個愛神的人或是良善的人看到耶穌,會很高興能與耶穌同在,而不像經文中魔鬼對耶穌說:「我與你有什麼相干?」這在我們的日常生活中也是相當重要的提醒。若我說:「我與你有什麼相干?我根本不在乎你。」這就是魔鬼的道路,這不是彼此交誼的方式。神是共融(communion)、合一、三一共存的,是相互交流的,並且樂於與人相交。當我對人說:「我根本不在乎你?你我有何相干呢?」這就是邁向了魔鬼的道路。

 

不只如此,耶穌問那人:「你叫什麼名字?」因為人被魔鬼附身,魔鬼透過人發聲。牠回答牠叫做「群」(Legion),這字的意思是六千羅馬大軍,也可見有多少的鬼附在這個人的裡面。

 

接著牠們一起發聲說話,鬼就央求耶穌,不要吩咐他們到無底坑裡去。由此可知,牠們知道自己要受刑罰,也可看出牠們並無悔意,牠們並未向神認罪說「神啊!我愛祢,請赦免我」。當然,如果牠們開口認罪,罪就立刻被赦免了。藉此可說明牠們的態度,牠們知道與耶穌相爭自己毫無勝算,所以央求耶穌別把牠們下放到無底坑去。

 

究竟什麼是無底坑?在詩篇中說「深淵就與深淵響應」(詩篇42:7),深淵或無底坑是由希臘字abyssos而來,就是很深的意思。這深淵就是神無盡的愛,當我們在聖週二唱著St. Kassiane女詩人的歌,詩的結尾說「我的罪惡罄竹難書,祢的慈愛深淵無盡。」如此我們就能明白這二者間的關係。

 

所以有那麼一處深淵,是神無窮盡的慈愛。為何是深淵,因為是無終無盡,是我們完全無法了解的。但是還有另一種深淵,我們也是深淵,但不像神的深淵一樣深不見底,每個人的靈魂都是深奧的,如同深海一般。今天有學生來訪,他們所學的心理學,是人類如同深淵的靈魂。

 

但是有一種深淵是神無盡的愛,對於愛神的人而言,那深淵就是天堂。但是對於不能愛也不能與人相處的人,他們若在這樣無盡的愛中,無處逃避,對他們而言這就是地獄。完全無份於各種共融關係,這就是魔鬼所懼怕的無底洞。有位偉大的沙漠教父Abba Makarius走在沙漠中,他看見沙中有個骷髏頭。他碰那個骷髏頭並且問它是誰,因為他有來自神的力量,神使那骷髏頭的靈魂能夠回答Makarius問題。而它說:「我過去是偶像的祭司,我殺人獻祭。」Makarius又問:「你現在在哪裡?」他說:「我在黑暗中受盡折磨。但每逢你為我們禱告時,神允許我們轉身時能稍微看見彼此,這讓我們可得到安慰。」因為這位教會的聖者Makarius為每個人禱告時,他的禱告大有能力,使這些靈魂稍得共融,因為能看到對方的臉也是一種小小的安慰。

 

這顯示極度疏離、萬般孤寂就是魔鬼掉入的無底坑。牠們懼怕,但卻無意改變。牠還想要陷害耶穌,求耶穌說:「好的,我會離開這個人,因為你要我如此做,但請讓我們進入那群豬裡。」因為那裏剛好有一群豬。這城鎮的人養豬,也許有五千頭豬,甚至更多。魔鬼求耶穌這件小事,善良的耶穌也就同意了。然後因為豬群被鬼附,牠們都投入海中淹死了。

 

我們可能會問,就像我們的朋友也可能會問有關魔鬼的問題。如果你問一個心理諮商師魔鬼是否存在,他會告訴你:「不不不,那不是你所認為的力量,它們不是真的魔鬼。」在基督教中我們所信的是神,即便我們不在乎魔鬼或其他力量,但魔鬼卻真實存在。否則你如何解釋那些原本平靜進食的豬群,怎會突然投河自盡?這很重要,若是心中不健康的人,他的確會想自殺。但是一大群豬也會自殺嗎?牠們會投河沒有其他因素,沒有人在後面驅趕。

 

所以魔鬼想要陷害耶穌,從某個觀點也可以說牠們成功陷害耶穌。因為有些照顧豬隻的牧人,他們跑回城告訴主人說他們的豬隻都死掉了、財產全沒了。但從另一方面來說,他們卻為耶穌做了證明。城裡的人跑來,看到原本被鬼附的人,居然不再赤身露體,或許他曾向村民拿了衣服來穿。現在那人卻坐在耶穌基督的腳前,變得聰明又平靜。我們可以明白這個人曾經這麼惡劣又充滿反社會行為,但現在卻變得完全不同,並成為愛主的人。

 

當人們看見豬隻跳進海裡,跑去告訴鎮上的人。那些人卻要耶穌離開他們的城鎮。這是很令人訝異的,因為他們之中的一位弟兄明明過去飽受苦痛,如今康復。即使他們看到耶穌這樣的大能,但他們卻不要耶穌。於是你就能了解人性。

 

那從魔鬼挾制中得到釋放的人祈求耶穌讓他能夠跟隨耶穌。這是因為心地被潔淨的人就會想跟隨耶穌,另一方面也是因為他怕魔鬼有可能再回來攻擊他。我們在福音書中看到,如果我們不好好照顧我們自己,雖然魔鬼可能暫時離開了,之後卻又回來攻擊。甚至帶更多的魔鬼回來攻擊,如同聖經中所提的「帶了七個比自己更惡的鬼來」(馬太福音12:45)。即使在教會中我們也可以看到這樣的例子,在一個人受洗前,我們會行驅魔禮來趕鬼,如此魔鬼就會離開這個人。但是若這人不夠警醒,甚至會有更多的魔鬼回頭來攻擊他。這是因為自由意志,若我們不要神,那撒旦就會歡歡喜喜地進到我們裡面。

 

不要誤解我的意思,並非每個有心理問題的人都因鬼附,絕非如此。生病有需要時,就該尋求心理醫師的協助並且服藥。但某些問題行為並非是源於腦部或生理心理因素,你可看到有些人毫無理由,便對家人極度惡劣;也有些人沒有特別明顯的因素,便具有極端的反社會行為;或者有些人看到正教教堂會遠離;或者看見美麗和榮耀的聖禮儀、看見神的恩典時,會遠遠走避。這些可以視為魔鬼是否返回,或甚至是否帶回來更多魔鬼的一種檢視。

 

但當福音書中鬼所離開的那人懇求可以跟隨耶穌,祂卻打發他回去,但耶穌給了他恩典與使命,如同我們在羅馬書所看到的。耶穌總是給予兩件事,恩典和使命。恩典是耶穌使他得以自由,成為一個充滿神恩的人。而使命則是回到村裡,向那些追捕耶穌的人,告訴他們耶穌在他身上所行的事蹟,所以他成為一位宣教士。雖然我們無從得知結果如何,但顯而易見的是當基督被傳開時,有些信徒可能是來自這個的村鎮居民。同樣也要記得我們大家,包括你我,我們都有神的恩典,我們領受聖餐;同時也有使命,要向家人傳揚神的恩典,不只是用話語傳揚,也要用愛、互動、用你所行的創造和各種美事傳揚主恩。

 

最後我要說的一件事,是我們東正教徒並不怕魔鬼,也不在乎魔鬼。我們不公開行驅魔禮,這是私下的事情,魔鬼也不會因此有機會在大庭廣眾下賣弄自己。事實上,只要我們接受聖餐或是司祭祝福我們的家,魔鬼就會懼怕我們,因為牠們看見了耶穌基督的身體。如同今天福音書的內容,因為魔鬼看見神,牠們便懼怕。所以讓我們在生活中好好享受這樣的恩典及神的愛。願 聖三一的神保守我們眾人。

*********************

2014.10.26 路加福音第六主日

東正教會簡介:

http://theological.asia/taiwan-orthodox/

 

紀錄: Baker教授

翻譯:張奉書

 

Photo: Ignorant Walking

https://www.flickr.com/photos/iwalking/2730297762/ 

 

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2014.10.26 Sixth Sunday of Luke – The Abyss of the Love of God

St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy 2:1-10    TIMOTHY, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.   Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.

The Gospel of Luke 8:26-39   At that time, as Jesus arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, there met him a man from the city who had demons; for a long time he had worn no clothes and he lived not 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 beseech 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 fetters, but he broke the bonds and was 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 swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them leave. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. When the herdsmen saw what 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 he who had been possessed with demons was healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gadarenes 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 he 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.

 

Fr. Jonah’s Sermon:

This gospel that tells about when Jesus Christ meets the demons should be especially interesting to our guests today [who are students from a psychology department]. There is very deep meaning in that Jesus is going to a country where not only one person [has problems], but it is a very unmerciful country where most of the people are under some evil influence. And there is one person, who for some reason – we really don’t know what, probably his bad behavior or something – who was entered by demons.

But we see something especially deep: what the actions of demons to people are. We see first that the person lost himself and he was possessed. We must know that God never possesses us; He repects our freedom. When the Holy Spirit enters us, we never lose our consciousness. I say this because in Taiwan it is a common occurrence that someone touches a person [supposedly with the Holy Spirit] and that person falls down. This is not from God. God may fill your heart with wisdom and happiness, but you will never lose your consciousness. You may become full of love, but you will not shout and you will not say things that you do not understand.

And there were some other things that were happening to this man. Because of the demon he was naked. We remember that after the Fall, Adam and Eve realized that they were naked, so we see that here is a human being naked from everything: from respect, from glory, from everything. Also, we see that this person had been creating big problems, which was why the people had chained him to prevent him from destroying things, He was so powerful, because the demons have power, that he could break the chains if he wanted.

And the worst thing was his social condition since he lived not in the town, but in between the graves. We see that the demons want us to live in the place of the dead, not in the place of the living. This is a very important thing, that if the demon had the power to kill this man, he would have, but he could not do this. And today when we see movies, you can see the sickness of modern society in that people miss and want to have movies about vampires, Dracula, these things that are far away from love, not going to a movie to feel love and connected to other people, that you do something creative, you go where there is death. Then these pictures are in our memories and they bring to us the feeling and taste of demons, which is to lead human beings to death. And when I speak of death, I do not mean just death of the body, but the death of relationships. Because, as we will see, the person who is without relationships is already dead.

As with the people who are taking videos today, if you are a movie director and you are good at it, you could see how deeply symbolic it is that Jesus is going to the place where there are graves and when you see the demon-possessed person, it is actually the picture of humanity. Some good writer says, “Where Lord do you go, to go to our towns, the graves and demon possessed? You go to the forest, where Cain killed his brother.” There is a very famous Negro spiritual song from America that has these words, “Where you go Lord.”

So we see that when Jesus met the demon, he ordered him to go out of the person. But we see also that the Gospel says that the demon was causing the man to shout and fall in front of Jesus Christ, saying “What is between me and You, Son of God.” This shows that demon knows who is God. Sso there are two types of knowledge, two ways to know God. And we should remember that at this time the apostles and the other people did not know that Jesus was the Son of God; they thought he was something special, but they did not know very deeply.

But from another point of view, we can ask, “So the demon is a believer?” For example, if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the demon also knows this, so is he a Christian? No, he is not because it is how you know God. If you know God as power, that is the knowledge of a demon. How God wants us to know Him is as the Trinity, as love – not as power. This is why even though some Christians may say that they believe in Christ and they go to church, but they have the faith of the demons because they see God as a power that they try to manipulate. You do something for me, I do something for You. So, we must be very careful that when we believe in God, we know him as love; this is the faith of Christians. The faith of the demons is different; they see God as power and they are afraid of this power.

You see what the demon says. It is not as a lover or a good person would say when they saw God, “I am so happy to be with you.” The demon says, “Keep away from me.” This is very important even in daily life. If I say, “What is between me and you? I don’t care about you,” then this is the way of the demon; it is not a social way. God is communion, is union, is the three persons in coexistence, the sociality. From the time that I say to my brother, “I don’t care about you. What do we have together? Nothing,” this starts the way of the demons.

Not only this, Jesus said to the man, “What is your name?” And Jesus was not speaking to the demon, He was speaking to the human being, but because he was demon-possessed, the demon spoke for him. And he said, “Legion,” which was about six thousand Roman soldiers, so there were a lot of demons in him.

Then they spoke in plural, saying, “Don’t put us in the abyss.” So they know first that they are going to be punished, this they know, but you see nothing about repentance, nothing to say “God, I love you, please forgive me,” and of course it would be forgiven at once. So you see their attitude. They knew that they would lose, but they asked not to be put into the abyss.

What is the abyss? You can see that one of the psalms, I forget the number but it is very famous, it says, “Abyss calls another abyss.” [Psalm 42:7, see below] And what is one abyss? It comes from a Greek word, abyssos, meaning very great depth. It is the abyss of the ultimate love of God. On the Great Tuesday, when we sing the song of the woman poet, St. Kassiane, at the end of this poem it says, “The multitude of my sins and the abyss of Your love.” So you can understand.

So there is one abyss, the abyss of the ultimate love of God. Why is this an abyss? Because there is no end and it is totally….we cannot understand. But there is also another abyss: We are also an abyss, not as deep as the abyss of God, but the soul of each person is so deep, like a very deep sea. And the students visiting us today are studying this, the abyss of the human soul in psychology.

But there is the abyss of the love of God, and for those who love, this abyss is Paradise. And for those who cannot love and cannot socialize, if they live in this ultimate love and they cannot escape, for them this is Hell. The total absence of any communion, this is the abyss that these demons are afraid of. We read that when a great Father of the Desert, Abba Makarius, was walking in the desert, he saw a skull in the sand. Because he had the power of God he touched it and said, “Who are you?” and because he had that great power, God gave to the soul of the person whose skull it was the ability to answer Makarius. And he said, “I was a priest of idols and I was making human sacrifices.” So he had been killing people. And Makarius asked, “And where are you now?” He said, “I suffer a lot in the darkness. But when you pray for us, God allows us to turn and see one anther a little bit and this gives us comfort.” Because the great saint of the church, Makarius, was praying for everybody, and he prayers were so great that he gave them a little bit of community, and for one face to see another was a small comfort.

This shows that the ultimate alienation, the ultimate loneliness, this is the abyss that the demon is going to go into, and he is very afraid of this. But he does not want to change. And still he wants to put Jesus into a trap. He is begging Jesus, saying, “OK, we will leave this human being because you ask this, but allow us to go the pigs” since there were a lot of pigs there. Since the people of this town were working with pigs, there were maybe five thousand pigs, maybe more. So Jesus showed His good attitude and because the demon asked him a small favor, He said, “OK, go, I allow you.” Then because the pigs had become demon-possessed, they all jumped into the sea and died.

And from this point of view, we can ask, as our friends today may ask, because if you ask a modern psychologist about demons, he will say, “No, no, no. These are different powers, and they are not really demons.” But in Christianity we believe in God. We don’t care about demons or other things. But demons must exist, because how else could you explain why these pigs, who were eating peacefully there, suddenly all decided t commit suicide? That is a very important thing. If a person is psychologically sick, he can commit suicide, but what about the pigs? There were so many pigs who did this all together with no other reason; nobody was going against them.

So the demons wanted to trap Jesus, and from one point of view they succeeded because there were some people there to take care of the pigs and they went to the people of the town and told them that their property had been destroyed. But from the other point of view, we see that, on one hand they had proof of Jesus. Then people of the town came and they saw that the person who had been possessed was now wearing clothes because somebody must have given him some, and he was so wise and peaceful, sitting at the feet of Jesus Christ. We see the person who had been bad and antisocial was now in a good position and was loving Jesus Christ.

But when the people who had seen the pigs jump into the sea went and told the people of the town, those people said to Jesus, “Get out of our town.” It is amazing that one of their brothers who had been suffering had become well, no. They did not want Jesus at all, even though they saw that he had such great power. So you can understand.

But the person who had been freed from the demons begged Jesus to let him follow Him, because someone who is really clean wants to follow Jesus Christ, and it was also because it was possible for the demon to come back again. We see in the Gospels that although a demon has left a person, later he can come back again if we don’t take care of ourselves. And then he would bring more, the Gospel says seven more. And we see this even in the church. Before someone is baptized we read the exorcism so that if there is some evil power in him, it will leave. Then if this person does not pay attention, then even more demons can come back. This is because of free will: If we don’t want God then the demon will be very happy and he enters.

I don’t want to be misunderstood. It is not that every person who has psychological problems is demon-possessed, no. Of course people should go to psychologists or take medicine, of course. But sometimes the behavior is not because of some problem with the brain. You may see people who behave very badly to their family without any reason, who become very anti-social without any obvious reason, who see the Church and to go far away, who see the beauty and the glory of the Liturgy and the grace of God and to go far away. This is an indication that a demon has returned and brought even more demons

But when this person in the Gospel asked to follow Jesus, He said, “No.” But He gave him, as we see in Romans, the grace and the mission. Jesus always give two things. The grace was that he made him free, a human being full of the grace of God. And the mission was to go back to the people who had chased Jesus away and tell them what God did to you. So he became a missionary. We don’t know the result. Obviously, when Christianity spread, maybe some people from this town also believed. And remember also that all of us, you and me, we have the grace of God, you receive the Holy Communion, and you have the mission as well, to proclaim this grace of God to your house, not only by your words, but by your love and your sociality, by any creative and good things you do.

And there is one last thing I want to say, and that is that we Orthodox Christians are not afraid of demons, and we don’t care about the demons. We don’t have a public exorcism. This is a private thing so that the demon cannot show off. Indeed, when we receive the Holy Communion or when a priest blesses our house, the demons are afraid of us. Why? Because they see the Body of Jesus Christ. And so as the Gospel says today, the demons are afraid because they see God. So enjoy this grace and the love of God in your lives. May the Holy Trinity protect all of us.

 

O my God, my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan,
And from the heights of Hermon,
From the Hill Mizar.
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.

 

Recorder: Prof. Baker

 

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