The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 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 Mother of God in our lives. This offering is the fruit of a three day conference hosted by Patristic Nectar Publications, a collaboration of many clergy scholars, including the keynote speaker, His grace Bishop Irenae of London, as well as his Grace Bishop Basil of Wichita, Archimandrite Maximos Konstas, Father Kalinique Burgher, Father Chad Hatfield and father John Parker. The lectures are dedicated to an edifying examination of the great feasts of the Mother of God, as well as additional lectures on particular aspects of the life of the most holy Theotokos, and her role in the lives of Christian believers. For these and other available titles, please visit our website at patristic nectar dot work. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trenna. In the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, a blessed it Lord's Day to all of you, brothers and sisters. I've entitled my Homily Devil Monsters, devil monsters. That title comes from the Gospel Text, which you just heard, one of the scariest, most monstrous texts, and the Holy Gospel. You know, I can't think of a more vulnerable person to the demons than a person who doesn't believe they 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 for you is not the foundation of your belief, then you also are going to be very weak and start believing anything. And so we live in a culture in which many Americans have no concern about the demons whatsoever, make no effort to 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 now believe just about anything. Look at all of the great interest in ufos that is just gripped our culture, these strange flying objects. COULD THEY BE ALIENS? We also have a great fetish as a nation for horror films. More and more every year you can pretty much at any time go on to Fendango and look at your movies, or however you do it. Half of them, roughly half, are going to be some incredibly grotesque scare flick design to really shake you up. As though life isn't scariest enough by itself, you need to somehow package scare into a syringe and injected into yourself when you go to the movie theater. Traditional societies, non Christian societies, they all know about demons, every one of them. Ancient cultures, before the coming of Christ, all knew about demons. Nobody questioned them, everybody knew that they existed. They had conflicting ideas about how...

...to protect yourself from them, how to hide from them, how to limit their influence on your life. Maybe you needed to offer sacrifices to them, maybe you needed to hang something in your window, whatever it was, but don't project your life, brothers and sisters, the life of pious believing Christians, onto them. You have a very unique relationship to the demons, a relationship that was only made possible by him. He's the one, as you see in the Gospel today, who flipped the world upside down with regards to the power of the demons. He's the one who made it possible for a human being to go from living in fear of the demons to not fearing them at all? One man, the Lord Christ, and you saw it today in the Gospel. He came to the land of the GERGHASINES and a man who had been completely decimated, who had had happened to him what everyone else feared might happen to them. He had lost everything, his family, his career, his home, his health, his relationships. He was completely possessed, living in the tombs as a symbol of the goal of every demonic action, which is to promote death and everything that leads to it, which is why they're so entangled in the drug culture and in the pornography culture in our land, just working death from the inside out. Jesus came into the country of the geghisines and this man who could not be contained by chains, who, with the inspiration of the evil spirits, broke them, this man was put in change by the presence of Jesus. He came out these possessed. They came out to him, to Christ, fear completely reversed, no longer men fearing the demons, but demons fearing 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 coming to save us, the whole focus of his the economy of salvation. Why did Jesus become a man? Why did the son of God come to be with us? St John says, the son of man has appeared to destroy the 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 the devils. We definitively have them scraped out of our life by the prayers of baptism, by the mighty exorcisms that the community, joining their priest, says, whenever and ever anyone approaches the faught. We cast them out and to put a cap on that disassociation. The person to be baptized looks into the face of the devil, so to speak,...

...by turning West, and spits in his face. Then Christ fills with his own presence the believer. That believer becomes a small Christ, that believer carries the presence of Christ and as such, becomes, by God's decree, by God's own wish, a terror to 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 as if the Christian himsel self is not cultivating the presence of Christ in his or her life. The window through which the demons crawl back into our lives is sin. Big Sins are a tear in the fabric of our own integrity and allowed invitation to the devils to come into our lives. God forbid that for us. We don't want Jesus is teaching about the devil that was driven out of the House and came back later and found it empty and went and God seven devils worse than itself and came back and dwelt in that place. In the 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. He says, why did Jesus allow those nasty devils to go into the pigs? He said that Jesus did that intentionally. He wanted to show us, the people then and us now, the intention of the devils. They dwelt in this 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 had their way, this man would have been torn to pizzas and in Haities in their grip. It Sat John says, you know that because of what they did to the pigs the second that they were given leave to go into the pigs, all two thousand of the pigs, right to their death, right to the abyss, which is exactly what they would have done to this man too, if God had allowed it to happen. CHRYS system wanted us to see 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 minds when we're tempted, when we're tempted to do things we know that give them an advantage in our life, like drunkenness. There's nothing tame about putting yourself in a state of alteration, of intoxication through drugs or alcohol, to grief, to the Holy Spirit, and it's an invitation to the devils in your life, to dance with whole industries that are supported and propagated by devils, like the abortion industry, like the pornography industry. These things are seed beds of unclean spirits and for us to play with them, to dance with them in any way, exceedingly dangerous. Brothers and sisters, allowed, call, allowed invitation for these spirits to come into our life, and you don't want that. This is my first point. Jesus has come to destroy the works of these real monsters and he has made our life possible, a life of peace. This man, it says, was exceedingly fierce. Believers are exceedingly peaceful. That's how we live, with the presence of God and without terror. It's not right, brothers and...

...sisters, for us to be a people who are afraid. I talked with one of my friends, my priest friends, yesterday on the phone. I hadn't spoken with him for a long time. We hadn't yet really processed much about the whole covid thing. This dear brother and I was sharing with him this wonderful t shirt that I had been 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 shirt during 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 t shirt it said fear, and then below it, in smaller letters, has said worshiped since two thousand and twenty. Fear, worshiped since two thousand and twenty. This is not our life, as though the demons have the power, as though somehow we are terrorized by anything. It's impossible. We are not terrorized. We are in the hands of God, the Good Shepherd has us and no one can take us out of his hands. He says no devil, no virus, not the threat of death, nothing. My second point 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 that is an absolutely true statement. What do they have to do with him? From two perspectives? Nothing with regard to salvation, the whole reason Christ was on the earth. Nothing. Because Jesus did not come to save devils. Jesus did not assume the nature of angels, let alone fallen angels, so that he could save them. The Devil's had their day, they had their chance, they lost it and their time is over. All they're doing is waiting and change for the great judgment. Not a single devil will be saved. Dear ones, they're done. In fact, Jesus, in that incredible text 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 he welcomes the sheep into the Kingdom of his father, prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and he sends the wicked away into everlasting punishment prepared for the devil and his angels? Hell is not for us, hell is for 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 his reign, 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 his word, 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 to do with Christ as our king. Keep that in mind too, by the way, when you see so much opposition in our falling society, in our ever growing secular society, so much rebellion against Jesus's way of life, remember whose voice you're really hearing. Remember whose voice you're really hearing. You're hearing this 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 Christ with regards to him, as judge everything. He came to destroy them and their works and to put them into that lake of fire. is going to drop them with death into the lake of fire forever, and in this they absolutely have to do with him. Saint Cyril of Alexandria, the incredible defender of the Deity of Christ, he comments on this text. He says that at this time, the Deity, the divinity of Jesus, is literally, these are his words, scorching the devils with an unbearable flame. The Deity of Christ is at this moment scorching the devils with an unbearable flame. This is 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 race so horribly and have caused such fear now have a taste of their own medicine and have become chained themselves, bound, kept under judgment, reserved for the Great Day. St Peter says, they're in darkness. My third and last point is the reaction of the people. The reaction of the people. I was meditating this week. It came to my mind, as I was preparing my sermon, through an event when that I saw outside my my sitting room window 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 approaches my house and then boom, right in front of my house I'll see the first 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 bike club, but who knows? Maybe they're criminals, I don't know. I don't know, but it looks like a cool bike club because all of their bikes are the same and they just blow ride down boulevard right in front of my house, right through a four. We stop that forget that at high speeds no cars can go nobody can walk across, and it goes on for several minutes, bicycle after bicycle, usually four or five wide, some of them doing wheelie's, standing on their on their seats, spitting their their handlebars around. Fascinating, absolutely fascinating. Yesterday it wasn't bicycles. Bicycles is all as all I've seen all sorts of different...

...bikes, so there must be multiple clubs, or maybe one club with subdivisions. I don't know. Maybe some of you are in these clubs and you'll and you'll inform me and you'll inform me 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't a 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 when I was on the mini bike. I think many bikes exist anymore, but it was a small and there was one, two, one hundred, two, hundred, five hundred, I don't know, maybe a thousand zooming by my house and everything stops. The reason that that struck me was because I had been meditating this week on this Gospel text, wondering about what the effect on me it would have been to see this man exercised and to see the demons, not visibly, right the the demons didn't show themselves as demonic presence visibly, but they showed by their works. To see them enter pigs and to have an entire heard of pigs, two thousand pigs, all of a sudden storm together, I'm sure it would have made what I was experiencing a looked tame. Two thousand pigs running down a hill right into the ocean so everyone could see exactly what would happened to our lives if we gave power to the devils. The people were completely shocked and they all came out to see Christ. It was the cusp of an incredible moment. The cusp of an incredible moment. It could have been the start of a massive renewal in this area. It was a mixed area, Jew and gentile. Christ had just done a work that nobody could deny. They could have come out and said, Lord, I want freedom from the devils too. Lord, I want you to rule me, save me, be my savior. It could have been incredible. What did they do? They came to see, but not to believe. They came to Ugle, but not to embrace. They ultimately came to join the demons in their rejection of Christ, because they in fact said to Jesus the very things that the devils did. What do we have to do with you? How sad, how pathetic. What do we have to do with you? They literally became in their practice devils, the one who came to save them and could have saved them. They were more interested in, I guess, the pigs, more interested in the pigs and the pigs life brutish ways. What were they afraid of? What did they think Jesus 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 devils here, 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 idea that Jesus was going to make their like heart. What was he going to what was he going to do next? Maybe they were thinking, he's told our pigs, is they going to steal our cattle? Maybe that's what they were thinking. I don't know. What a loss, though, and what a demonic trick. And don't we all know it, the temptation sometimes to think that following Jesus is going to make our life bad, the somehow he doesn'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 a demonic lie, the easiest way to screw up your life. As you know, brothers and sisters, just to do what you think is best absolutely the easiest way to screw up your life. Trust me from my basket experience of that very thing. No, we worship the king, the Lord who has dominion over Heaven and earth and everything under the earth, the one who has this 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 we will never be afraid of anything, of anything except displeasing him. Amend we hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titles or if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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