Demon Possession

Matthew 8:28-34
Am 5: 14-15. 21-24 / Ps 50: 7-13, 16-17

The whole town set out to meet Jesus; and as soon as they saw him they implored him to leave their district.
(Matthew 8:34)

Avoid places where evil holds sway,
Reject the words of sweet temptation;
From the lures of this world stay away,
That you may not fall to damnation.

When Jesus arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met Him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. (Matthew 8: 28-34)

Reflection

Our Gospel for today clearly illustrates that evil spirits or demons do take possession of the lives of certain people, and even hold dominion over areas that lack faith in God or where the people are disobedient to His laws and decrees. Repentance, faith and obedience are what we need to keep the forces of evil away from us.

When Jesus arrived on the shores of Gadara with His disciples, the demons immediately recognized Him as the Son of God, and even acknowledged His power and judgment over them. With haste they obeyed Him by releasing the two demoniacs from their possession. What is strange however is that the people of Gadara, who had witnessed this victory over evil, chose to reject His sovereignty and even asked Him to leave their district.

The most probable explanation for the rejection of Jesus in the Gadarenes could be because the influence of the evil spirits had become so pervasive in that place that the salvation Jesus wanted to preach was no longer relevant to them. The influence of Satan had become so strong that the Word of God could only fall on deaf ears due to the people’s materialism, selfishness, or false doctrines. Or perhaps their obsessive addiction to pork.

None are in greater danger of demon possession today than those who indulge in séances or spiritism and embrace the culture of the occult. People who believe in channeling, and in communicating with the spirits of the dead overtly expose themselves to the powerful influence of the prince of darkness. Despite numerous testimonies in Scriptures, many even deny the existence of devils and eternal damnation, having been deceived by Satan that God in His goodness would never allow the existence of hell. These people would be well advised to heed the wisdom of C. S. Lewis, who said, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall in our thinking about devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe in their existence but to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” Believe that Satan exists, but never believe him, because he is the prince of lies.

Do not linger in places where evil holds sway. As our Lord has shown us in today’s Gospel, depart from that place immediately. “Shake the dust off your feet”, and leave the people there to their own fate.

Father God, deliver us from the influence of evil spirits; keep us always in Your light by the power of the Holy Spirit, and by the Word of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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