|09 - The Gerasene Demoniac, Oct 31, 2010|
The Holy Scriptures bear witness to us of the spiritual mystery of the world that was hidden in God from the ages and revealed in these last days in Jesus Christ. The world was created by God as good. It was not created a mixture of good and evil. There was diversity in the original creation, but it was not the diversity of good and evil or moral and immoral. It was a diversity of all things good and moral and beautiful.
The crown of God’s creation was man. Made from the dust of the ground, man even so was made in the Image and Likeness of God. The Gospel proclaims that the Image and Likeness of God in which man was created was the very Person of Christ Himself. This reveals that the principle of man’s nature is to exist in communion with God, to live, to move, to have his being in God so that it is not man who lives but God who lives in him.
That means that man was not made for death. He was made for life in God. More specifically, he was made to live the divine life of God, and the world was made to live in God through man. Thus, when God commands man to subdue the earth and to rule over it, He is not giving man permission to treat the earth any way he pleases. God is commanding man to offer the world in himself to the Father in Christ through the Holy Spirit so that the world can realize the principle of its being: to exist in the goodness, the beauty, the holiness and the divine life of God.
That death and corruption have become the principle of worldly existence is therefore inconceivable unless man in the depths of his soul, in his heart, has rejected God and opened his eyes not toward the Light of God in which the world was brought to life but towards the darkness of the formless emptiness from which the world was called out into existence by the Word of God.
This biblical doctrine of man and the world reveals that the world, in man, now exists in a profound spiritual schizophrenia. The world is separated from itself. We exist contrary to the principle of our nature. The bible reveals that we were made for life and light in the love of God; but, we exist in ignorance of God, and so we exist in darkness, in death and corruption. We are subject to sickness and maladies of all kinds.
In the biblical view, this is not good nor is it natural. It is the evidence that in this life we are subject or rather enslaved to a great evil: death and to him who holds the power of death, that is the devil. St Paul spells it out for us in his epistle this morning: “You were dead in your sins and trespasses; for, you once walked in your sins and trespasses, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit which is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” That is to say, you were in ignorance of God, rejecting God by the manner of your life, and its consequence was spiritual darkness and spiritual death, even before your ‘actual’ physical death when your soul is separated from your body.
But, St Paul goes on to say. “But God in His great mercy, out of the great with which He loved us, made us alive in Christ, even when we were dead in our sins. He raised us up with Him and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” This is the Good News of the Gospel.
That this Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a pious myth, or even a religious symbol for some psychological process, but a hard, concrete reality is demonstrated powerfully to us in this morning’s Gospel. Let us understand who this Jesus is who steps out of the boat and onto the shore of the land of the Gerasenes.
In this image of Jesus stepping out of the boat and onto the shore of the Gerasenes can you not see a beautiful, powerful icon of Christmas? Jesus comes forth from the Virgin and onto the shore of this world that is covered all around in the heavy, dark cloak of death as He steps out of the boat and onto the shore of the land of the Gerasenes in the midst of the tombs; and in His deliverance of the demoniac from the power of the demons, do you not see an icon of Him striding forth from the tomb of His Holy Pascha, raising Adam with Himself in His Holy Resurrection, having trampled down death by His death and having given life to those in the tombs.
Yes, who is this Jesus whose birth as a little child we are preparing to celebrate, whose mere presence, even before He speaks a word, simply by stepping onto the shore, sends the demons into a frenzy and compels them to come groveling before Him. Hear the testimony of the Evangelist John and the holy apostle Paul: “The Image of the invisible God, by whom all things were made and in whom all things are held together, the Word of God by whom all things were made, who in the beginning was with God the Father, and who indeed is Himself God the Son, the Life of the world in whom is the Light of men, this Image and Word of God was conceived of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became flesh and dwelt among us.”
In the mystery of His Incarnation, Jesus Christ, the Image and Word of God, the only-begotten Son of God, Light from Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, is the New Adam who does not exist at all in any kind of spiritual or schizophrenia or psychological fragmentation; for He is Life. He is the Resurrection. He is the Font of Life, the Source of Healing. He is the union, not the separation, of God and man. Simply in who He is and in the mystery of His becoming flesh, He is already the conqueror of death and of him who holds the power of death. For, He was conceived in the “yes” of the Blessed Virgin Theotokos, the New Eve, by whose love for God and her free consent to the will of God, herself already overcame the evil one when she forsook the world and entered the temple even at the age of three to live in God and for God, to prepare herself to become the bride and mother of God, the Queen of Heaven and Earth. So that, even in His conception of the blessed and ever-Virgin Mary, the Panagia, the all-holy one, and in His becoming flesh, He has united what had been separated. He is the Light of God who shines in the darkness of this world. He is the Life who by coming forth from the virginal womb of the Theotokos has stepped onto the shore of this world and into the tombs giving life, the life of God, to all who draw near to Him in faith and in love.
In this morning’s Gospel, then, we have a powerful icon that reveals to us the terrible beauty of the Good News that we will hear for the first time in a couple of months now: “Christ is born!” Christ comes forth from the womb of the Ever-Virgin Mary and onto the shores of this world that is enslaved to him who holds over us the power of death as He stepped out of the boat and onto the shore of the Gerasenes in the midst of the tombs to deliver the demoniac from the demons as He delivers mankind from the tyranny of death. This morning’s Gospel is showing to us the terrible mystery of divine Beauty and Power that is wrapped in the swaddling clothes and laid in a manger and embraced in the arms of His All-Holy Mother on Christmas Eve. It is the revelation of the real Christmas, the birth of Christ that brings salvation to the world through the love of God in Christ Jesus out of which the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us, uniting Himself to us completely, even to the point of death on the cross that by His death, He might deliver us from death and grant life to those in the tombs and to us who were dead in our trespasses.
Even now, we can be preparing ourselves to penetrate the glitter of tinsel-town Christmas and to behold the great and terrible mystery of the real Christmas. Let’s take ourselves to the Holy Scriptures and study them with our ear cocked not to the wisdom of our own opinions but to the Wisdom of God who has revealed Himself to us in the mystery of His Incarnation. Let’s say the prayers of the Church, not with our lips only but with our heart. Absorb them. Make them our own. And so, may Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His grace and love for mankind, open the eyes of our soul that we may see the glory of His Gospel. May He open our ears to hear Him calling us to His Holy Church as He called the shepherds and the wise men to His holy manger in the dark cave radiant with the light that streamed from His holy face. With the shepherds and the wise men and the demoniac of the Gerasenes delivered from his demonic tormentors, may we fall in love with the Lord Jesus and fall down to worship Him in the fear of God, in faith and in love, in the company of His saints, in whom He loves to dwell as in His holy temple. Amen.