Faith is a combat.
A combat fought in us between Jesus Christ and our demons.
In the Gospel of Saint Mark,
we find the story of a man from Gerasa,
the ancient city of the Decapolis, in present-day Jordan.
This wretched man lived in the midst of tombs because everyone dumped him aside.
He was a nuisance to everybody.
They detested him.
They would even chain him… like a dog!
Since they could not eliminate him,
they just put him aside,
they emarginated him.
Since they could not control him,
they broke all ties with him.
He found himself alone.
His only companions were his evil spirits
who eventually possessed him.
He started hating himself:
‘he would howl and gash himself with stones’.
This is an realistic picture of our deep reality.
We too live amidst the tombs of our false deities.
We too are possessed by many evil spirits –
‘our war is not against flesh and blood’, says Saint Paul.
We too sometimes find ourselves put aside by the others.
We have learnt early that the only way to stay alive in this world of ours
is to live a double life.
We survive wearing the masks others want to us wear.
We know that if we do not do so, they will not love us.
We build defenses upon defenses
so that no one will be able to penetrate into our personal home
and discover who we really are.
At least in our small world
we can indulge in self pity,
there we shed our tears.
We find ourselves hating ourselves.
Many times we wished to annihilate ourselves!
all of a sudden He appears.
He gets out of the boat.
He… the anointed by the Spirit
the author of life
the Holy One
He draws near…
He seems to be interested in us!
It seems that Heaven would be empty for Him if we are not there,
if you are not near.
frosty and terrified,
confronts him: “What have we to do with you,
Jesus Son of God most High?
In God’s name do not torture me!”
The devil was many “Legion is my name!”
Jesus is alone.
But He prevails:
“Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”
And the devils have to go out.
They end up in the pigs
And then in the sea under the cliffs.
The man can now sit
in his right mind.
Why don’t we always win
as Jesus Christ won?
A possible answer!
Is it because we prefer to stay with our devils?
Perhaps it is easier to live with our sicknesses,
indulging in self pity,
than going through the painful process of healing.
The people of Gerasa
when they saw this man sane and calm
begged Jesus to go away from there!
Conversion can mean a debacle,
because healing means weaning from numerous things
because it means emptying oneself of a lot of stuff
because it means leaving too many idols.
And many prefer to go on living with their devils.
Some prefer to eat like the food assigned to pigs,
than a warm plate in the Father’s house.
Lord don’t let me be so stupid.
Come in my Gerasa land
and fight the battle against my demons.
When you win, I win.
“Asa called on the Lord his God
‘Lord, numbers and strength make no difference to you
when you give your help.
Help us, Lord our God, for, relying on you,
we are confronting this horde in your name.
Lord you are our God,
human strength cannot prevail against you.’
The Lord routed the Cushites before Asa and Judah.
The Cushites fled.” (2 Chron 14, 10-11)
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.