By the Backroom Theologian. This weeks Gospel reads like a Halloween story. In it we find a man possessed by demons. His behavior was so erratic even chains could not contain him. He lived in the tombs running around naked. He had become one with the demons. When he sees Jesus, the voice of the man and the voice of the demons cry out in unison…What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Even the demons did want to return into the abyss. As Jesus calls the demons out, He allows them to enter the bodies of some nearby pigs who then run into a nearby lake and drown. You can’t help but think of the movie The Exorcist, where we graphically see the nature of demon confrontation. This is scary stuff.
While there are reports today of modern-day exorcisms to rid people of demons, for the most part our daily demons are not as dramatic as those that would drown pigs or cause little a girl’s head to spin around in a movie. Ancient biblical texts and modern movies are filled with hyperbole and purple prose to make a point. But that doesn’t make our demons any less important or life-destroying. Whether it is drug addiction, alcoholism, schizophrenia, clinical depression, postpartum depression, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, anxiety and fear, homelessness, crime, isolation…we are surrounded by demons each and every day. These demons keep us from fulfilling relationships with ourselves, our friends, our family, and with God.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the take-away from this week’s Gospel is simply God is the answer to our demons. He will drive them out and we can all go home. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. A better way to say it is God is the foundation on which our demons can be addressed. God is with us as we muster courage to face our demons directly. God is there to catch us if we fall back or fall down…to help us get up again…to fight our demons again.
This weeks Epistle talks about how we are justified by faith in God. Our faith gives us claim to His love and benevolence be it in this life or the next. Our faith gives us His unconditional love no matter what the demons are we face in our daily lives. God wants us to succeed. He will cheer us on in our battle, will celebrate our victories, and give us solace when we falter while giving us renewed strength to confront our demons again until we win.
“ Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling…”