Tuesday, June 18, 2013
They came to land in the territory of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. He was stepping ashore when a man from the city who was possessed by devils came towards him; for a long time the man had been living with no clothes on, not in a house, but in the tombs. Catching sight of Jesus he gave a shout, fell at his feet and cried out at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I implore you, do not torture me.' For Jesus had been telling the unclean spirit to come out of the man. It had seized on him a great many times, and then they used to secure him with chains and fetters to restrain him, but he would always break the fastenings, and the devil would drive him out into the wilds. Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?' He said, 'Legion' -- because many devils had gone into him. And these begged him not to order them to depart into the Abyss. Now there was a large herd of pigs feeding there on the mountain, and the devils begged him to let them go into these. So he gave them leave. The devils came out of the man and went into the pigs, and the herd charged down the cliff into the lake and was drowned. When the swineherds saw what had happened they ran off and told their story in the city and in the country round about; and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus they found the man from whom the devils had gone out sitting at the feet of Jesus, wearing clothes and in his right mind; and they were afraid.
It’s not right. “Legion,” the possessed man when asked his name, and we might answer the same. “My name is legion, for many things possess and define me.”
But that is not right, not for him or for us.
We are not the demons that take control of us. We are not the fears, defense mechanisms or anxieties about our success, appearance and importance that possess us and obscure our deepest identity.
We are not the deficiencies and disappointments that haunt so many, nor are we the wounds and sorrows that seek control over our waking thoughts.
These things seek to define us, possess us, and too often we allow it, thinking that, yes, this is who we really are: that legion of feelings, the weight of the past, fears of the future and gnawing insecurities that shape our inner life and much outward behavior.
But this is not who we are. This is not our identity, and we know it when we, like the Gerasene demoniac are restored to our right mind.
Jesus enters the wild lands of our confusion, where we are driven about by one compulsion or another that takes possession of our minds and convinces us we are far less than we are.
How many times have I heard others… or myself spoken the words … ‘I am only …’ or I am just a …?’
How many times have I heard others… or myself … speak words that diminish or make light of the gifts, hopes and dignity of who we each are as human souls, bearers of great beauty, promise, love and capacity for receiving and giving grace?
How many times have do we accentuate our deficiencies or smallness for fear of making too much of ourselves--or to lower expectations so others would not look to us for any truly important?
In such times, we truly are not in our right minds. Right-mindedness appears only in the presence of the power of love that frees us to discover and be who we are as gifted, graced, beautiful children of the Loving Father who hungers for us to know and live our true dignity.
The power of such love frees us from demons that possess that our eyes might glisten and our lives shine with the glory God intends.
Pr. David L. Miller