The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 6 months ago

Devil Monsters | Sunday of the Gergasene Demoniacs

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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar is pleased to offer a new nine part series entitled the Motherof God in our lives. This offering is the fruit of a three dayconference hosted by Patristic Nectar Publications, a collaboration of many clergy scholars, includingthe keynote speaker, His grace Bishop Irenae of London, as well as hisGrace Bishop Basil of Wichita, Archimandrite Maximos Konstas, Father Kalinique Burgher, FatherChad Hatfield and father John Parker. The lectures are dedicated to an edifying examinationof the great feasts of the Mother of God, as well as additional lectureson particular aspects of the life of the most holy Theotokos, and her rolein the lives of Christian believers. For these and other available titles, pleasevisit our website at patristic nectar dot work. And now the arena with Father JosiahTrenna. In the name of the father and of the son and ofthe Holy Spirit, a blessed it Lord's Day to all of you, brothersand sisters. I've entitled my Homily Devil Monsters, devil monsters. That titlecomes from the Gospel Text, which you just heard, one of the scariest, most monstrous texts, and the Holy Gospel. You know, I can'tthink of a more vulnerable person to the demons than a person who doesn't believethey exist. No culture is more liable to demonic influence than a culture that, on principle, denies the existence of the demons. And of course,if you don't accept the truth that God has revealed, if the Gospel foryou is not the foundation of your belief, then you also are going to bevery weak and start believing anything. And so we live in a culturein which many Americans have no concern about the demons whatsoever, make no effortto protect themselves from them, see no need to be delivered from their power. And we also have a lot of Americans disassociated from the truth who nowbelieve just about anything. Look at all of the great interest in ufos thatis just gripped our culture, these strange flying objects. COULD THEY BE ALIENS? We also have a great fetish as a nation for horror films. Moreand more every year you can pretty much at any time go on to Fendangoand look at your movies, or however you do it. Half of them, roughly half, are going to be some incredibly grotesque scare flick design toreally shake you up. As though life isn't scariest enough by itself, youneed to somehow package scare into a syringe and injected into yourself when you goto the movie theater. Traditional societies, non Christian societies, they all knowabout demons, every one of them. Ancient cultures, before the coming ofChrist, all knew about demons. Nobody questioned them, everybody knew that theyexisted. They had conflicting ideas about how...

...to protect yourself from them, howto hide from them, how to limit their influence on your life. Maybeyou needed to offer sacrifices to them, maybe you needed to hang something inyour window, whatever it was, but don't project your life, brothers andsisters, the life of pious believing Christians, onto them. You have a veryunique relationship to the demons, a relationship that was only made possible byhim. He's the one, as you see in the Gospel today, whoflipped the world upside down with regards to the power of the demons. He'sthe one who made it possible for a human being to go from living infear of the demons to not fearing them at all? One man, theLord Christ, and you saw it today in the Gospel. He came tothe land of the GERGHASINES and a man who had been completely decimated, whohad had happened to him what everyone else feared might happen to them. Hehad lost everything, his family, his career, his home, his health, his relationships. He was completely possessed, living in the tombs as a symbolof the goal of every demonic action, which is to promote death and everythingthat leads to it, which is why they're so entangled in the drugculture and in the pornography culture in our land, just working death from theinside out. Jesus came into the country of the geghisines and this man whocould not be contained by chains, who, with the inspiration of the evil spirits, broke them, this man was put in change by the presence ofJesus. He came out these possessed. They came out to him, toChrist, fear completely reversed, no longer men fearing the demons, but demonsfearing the Lord Jesus Christ. You know. Seeing John and his first epistle.He sums up in one magnificent verse the entire focus of Jesus is comingto save us, the whole focus of his the economy of salvation. Whydid Jesus become a man? Why did the son of God come to bewith us? St John says, the son of man has appeared to destroythe works of the devil. First John, three eight. What a text.The son of men has come to destroy the works of the devil,to subdue the devils, to disarm the devils and to dispossess the devils,to take back it was rightly God's that they had stolen, namely people.These are real monsters, these devils, but real monsters who have been shackled, real monsters who have been chained, real monsters who have suffered terrible blows. And so Christians live as no other people ever have when relationship to thedevils. We definitively have them scraped out of our life by the prayers ofbaptism, by the mighty exorcisms that the community, joining their priest, says, whenever and ever anyone approaches the faught. We cast them out and to puta cap on that disassociation. The person to be baptized looks into theface of the devil, so to speak,...

...by turning West, and spits inhis face. Then Christ fills with his own presence the believer. Thatbeliever becomes a small Christ, that believer carries the presence of Christ and assuch, becomes, by God's decree, by God's own wish, a terrorto demons. That's what a Christian is. That's what a Christian is to be. The only reason a Christian would not be a terror to demons asif the Christian himsel self is not cultivating the presence of Christ in his orher life. The window through which the demons crawl back into our lives issin. Big Sins are a tear in the fabric of our own integrity andallowed invitation to the devils to come into our lives. God forbid that forus. We don't want Jesus is teaching about the devil that was driven outof the House and came back later and found it empty and went and Godseven devils worse than itself and came back and dwelt in that place. Inthe last condition of the man was worse than before. St John Chrysystem,in his commentary on Today's Gospel. He says he poses a question. Hesays, why did Jesus allow those nasty devils to go into the pigs?He said that Jesus did that intentionally. He wanted to show us, thepeople then and us now, the intention of the devils. They dwelt inthis man. They made him live a horrible life. He was still alive, but he was only alive by God's Providence. If the devils had hadtheir way, this man would have been torn to pizzas and in Haities intheir grip. It Sat John says, you know that because of what theydid to the pigs the second that they were given leave to go into thepigs, all two thousand of the pigs, right to their death, right tothe abyss, which is exactly what they would have done to this mantoo, if God had allowed it to happen. CHRYS system wanted us tosee the ugly face of the devils, what they really want in our life. This is why we should keep this. We should keep this in our mindswhen we're tempted, when we're tempted to do things we know that givethem an advantage in our life, like drunkenness. There's nothing tame about puttingyourself in a state of alteration, of intoxication through drugs or alcohol, togrief, to the Holy Spirit, and it's an invitation to the devils inyour life, to dance with whole industries that are supported and propagated by devils, like the abortion industry, like the pornography industry. These things are seedbeds of unclean spirits and for us to play with them, to dance withthem in any way, exceedingly dangerous. Brothers and sisters, allowed, call, allowed invitation for these spirits to come into our life, and you don'twant that. This is my first point. Jesus has come to destroy the worksof these real monsters and he has made our life possible, a lifeof peace. This man, it says, was exceedingly fierce. Believers are exceedinglypeaceful. That's how we live, with the presence of God and withoutterror. It's not right, brothers and...

...sisters, for us to be apeople who are afraid. I talked with one of my friends, my priestfriends, yesterday on the phone. I hadn't spoken with him for a longtime. We hadn't yet really processed much about the whole covid thing. Thisdear brother and I was sharing with him this wonderful t shirt that I hadbeen given by one of our parishioners. I won't describe it at this moment, and he told me that he also had been given a wonderful t shirtduring covid and I said, well, what did the T shirt say?He said it had a large four letter word on the front of his tshirt it said fear, and then below it, in smaller letters, hassaid worshiped since two thousand and twenty. Fear, worshiped since two thousand andtwenty. This is not our life, as though the demons have the power, as though somehow we are terrorized by anything. It's impossible. We arenot terrorized. We are in the hands of God, the Good Shepherd hasus and no one can take us out of his hands. He says nodevil, no virus, not the threat of death, nothing. My secondpoint is to comment on something that the devils themselves said through this man's mouth. They said, what do we have to do with thee son of God? What do we have to do with thee son of God? And thatis an absolutely true statement. What do they have to do with him?From two perspectives? Nothing with regard to salvation, the whole reason Christ wason the earth. Nothing. Because Jesus did not come to save devils.Jesus did not assume the nature of angels, let alone fallen angels, so thathe could save them. The Devil's had their day, they had theirchance, they lost it and their time is over. All they're doing iswaiting and change for the great judgment. Not a single devil will be saved. Dear ones, they're done. In fact, Jesus, in that incredibletext in Matthew Twenty five that we read on the Sunday of the great judgment, what does he say when he separates the sheep and the goats and hewelcomes the sheep into the Kingdom of his father, prepared for them from thefoundation of the world, and he sends the wicked away into everlasting punishment preparedfor the devil and his angels? Hell is not for us, hell isfor the devils. God has prepared it for them and that's their future.So you're right. What do we have to do with you, the Savior? The answer is nothing. You devils have nothing to do with Christ,and that's a true statement that they said. It's also true from a second perspective, which is they have nothing to do with Jesus's Crown, with hisreign, with his gracious way of life that he has bestowed upon Earth,which he's given to us, with his words, with his sacred law.The Devil's spit on his crown, despise his reign, work completely against hisword, are always trying to oppose his law and his presence in the world. So this is another perspective. You're...

...right, the devils have nothing todo with Christ as our king. Keep that in mind too, by theway, when you see so much opposition in our falling society, in ourever growing secular society, so much rebellion against Jesus's way of life, rememberwhose voice you're really hearing. Remember whose voice you're really hearing. You're hearingthis voice, Legion's Voice. What do we have to do with you?But in a third perspective, I'd say they have everything to do with Christwith regards to him, as judge everything. He came to destroy them and theirworks and to put them into that lake of fire. is going todrop them with death into the lake of fire forever, and in this theyabsolutely have to do with him. Saint Cyril of Alexandria, the incredible defenderof the Deity of Christ, he comments on this text. He says thatat this time, the Deity, the divinity of Jesus, is literally,these are his words, scorching the devils with an unbearable flame. The Deityof Christ is at this moment scorching the devils with an unbearable flame. Thisis what's happening in the presence of Jesus. These devils, who were the tormentors, are tormented, and those forces that have worked against the human raceso horribly and have caused such fear now have a taste of their own medicineand have become chained themselves, bound, kept under judgment, reserved for theGreat Day. St Peter says, they're in darkness. My third and lastpoint is the reaction of the people. The reaction of the people. Iwas meditating this week. It came to my mind, as I was preparingmy sermon, through an event when that I saw outside my my sitting roomwindow at home. It's been happening more and more, maybe for a year, maybe a year or so. Every now and then, at dusk,I hear the sound of wheels and it grows louder and louder as it approachesmy house and then boom, right in front of my house I'll see thefirst bicycle, and then I'll see a second, a third, a ten, a twenty, a one hundredth, a two hundred, five hundred,a pack of it must be some sort of I'm tempted to say cool bikeclub, but who knows? Maybe they're criminals, I don't know. Idon't know, but it looks like a cool bike club because all of theirbikes are the same and they just blow ride down boulevard right in front ofmy house, right through a four. We stop that forget that at highspeeds no cars can go nobody can walk across, and it goes on forseveral minutes, bicycle after bicycle, usually four or five wide, some ofthem doing wheelie's, standing on their on their seats, spitting their their handlebarsaround. Fascinating, absolutely fascinating. Yesterday it wasn't bicycles. Bicycles is allas all I've seen all sorts of different...

...bikes, so there must be multipleclubs, or maybe one club with subdivisions. I don't know. Maybe some ofyou are in these clubs and you'll and you'll inform me and you'll informme afterward because I am ignorant. But yesterday it was a little bit different. Sound it was. It was a motor was motorized, but it wasn'ta like speed bike or something. And sure enough there was the first one. That was a some sort of small motorcycle like what we would call whenI was on the mini bike. I think many bikes exist anymore, butit was a small and there was one, two, one hundred, two,hundred, five hundred, I don't know, maybe a thousand zooming bymy house and everything stops. The reason that that struck me was because Ihad been meditating this week on this Gospel text, wondering about what the effecton me it would have been to see this man exercised and to see thedemons, not visibly, right the the demons didn't show themselves as demonic presencevisibly, but they showed by their works. To see them enter pigs and tohave an entire heard of pigs, two thousand pigs, all of asudden storm together, I'm sure it would have made what I was experiencing alooked tame. Two thousand pigs running down a hill right into the ocean soeveryone could see exactly what would happened to our lives if we gave power tothe devils. The people were completely shocked and they all came out to seeChrist. It was the cusp of an incredible moment. The cusp of anincredible moment. It could have been the start of a massive renewal in thisarea. It was a mixed area, Jew and gentile. Christ had justdone a work that nobody could deny. They could have come out and said, Lord, I want freedom from the devils too. Lord, I wantyou to rule me, save me, be my savior. It could havebeen incredible. What did they do? They came to see, but notto believe. They came to Ugle, but not to embrace. They ultimatelycame to join the demons in their rejection of Christ, because they in factsaid to Jesus the very things that the devils did. What do we haveto do with you? How sad, how pathetic. What do we haveto do with you? They literally became in their practice devils, the onewho came to save them and could have saved them. They were more interestedin, I guess, the pigs, more interested in the pigs and thepigs life brutish ways. What were they afraid of? What did they thinkJesus was going to ask them to do that was going to be so bad? What a terrible lie. Even though we see the defeat of the devilshere, we also see their victory in these people's lives. The Devil's lost, but then they won. They somehow stirred up in these people the ideathat Jesus was going to make their like heart. What was he going towhat was he going to do next? Maybe they were thinking, he's toldour pigs, is they going to steal our cattle? Maybe that's what theywere thinking. I don't know. What a loss, though, and whata demonic trick. And don't we all know it, the temptation sometimes tothink that following Jesus is going to make our life bad, the somehow hedoesn't have our best in mind, and...

...that somehow, if we obey him, if we follow him, it's not going to go great. What ademonic lie, the easiest way to screw up your life. As you know, brothers and sisters, just to do what you think is best absolutely theeasiest way to screw up your life. Trust me from my basket experience ofthat very thing. No, we worship the king, the Lord who hasdominion over Heaven and earth and everything under the earth, the one who hasthis come to destroy the works of the devil and to set us free.Let's completely trust him, let's cultivate his presence in our life so that wewill never be afraid of anything, of anything except displeasing him. Amend wehope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to youby Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty withthe sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other availabletitles or if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visitour website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dotpatristic nectar dot org.

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