Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the lake, to the region of the Gerasenes. As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out of the tombs. This man lived among the tombs, and no one was ever strong enough to restrain him, even with a chain. He had been secured many times with leg irons and chains, but he broke the chains and smashed the leg irons. No one was tough enough to control him. Night and day in the tombs and the hills, he would howl and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from far away, he ran and knelt before him, shouting, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!”
He said this because Jesus had already commanded him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”
Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
He responded, “Legion is my name, because we are many.”
They pleaded with Jesus not to send them out of that region.
A large herd of pigs was feeding on the hillside. “Send us into the pigs!” they begged. “Let us go into the pigs!” Jesus gave them permission, so the unclean spirits left the man and went into the pigs. Then the herd of about two thousand pigs rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned.
Those who tended the pigs ran away and told the story in the city and in the countryside. People came to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the man who used to be demon-possessed. They saw the very man who had been filled with many demons sitting there fully dressed and completely sane, and they were filled with awe. Those who had actually seen what had happened to the demon-possessed man told the others about the pigs. Then they pleaded with Jesus to leave their region.
While he was climbing into the boat, the one who had been demon-possessed pleaded with Jesus to let him come along as one of his disciples. But Jesus wouldn’t allow it. “Go home to your own people,” Jesus said, “and tell them what the Lord has done for you and how he has shown you mercy.” The man went away and began to proclaim in the Ten Cities all that Jesus had done for him, and everyone was amazed.
There are a few things here that I find striking. The first is the confrontation between the Realm of G_d and broken systems of the world. These types of stories tell us that both realms are connected - interlocked and overlapped. What’s important about this is that G_d’s Realm is not limited to the spiritual world. Jesus’ confrontation with “Legion” shows us that G_d’s Realm was coming to earth, as we saw previously. While the casting out of Legion took place in the spiritual realm, the affects were displayed in the manifest realm. This leads us to the next point.
The expansion of G_d’s Realm “on earth as it is in heaven” can be expensive. The people in the neighboring communities were directly impacted by the deliverance and healing of this unknown man. Their livestock perished along with any sales or profit. To me, this shows that G_d’s Realm also confronts our economic models. And, sometimes, those models can’t continue when they come face to face with G_d’s Realm. Occasionally, we need to dissolve them altogether.
Lastly, G_d’s Realm also impacts our social constructs. The delivered and healed man was told to return to his home and people. He was to return to his community. He wouldn’t need to be marginalized any longer. G_d, through Jesus, had restored him.
From this familiar story, we see what it looks like when G_d’s Realm expands in the world. Do our lives reflect this? What would this look like in our families? At our jobs? In our social gatherings? In our communities? At our city council meetings? At our school boards? I know a lot of people feel that the political and public area is no place for “religion.” And I would somewhat agree. But this isn’t about “religion.” This is about living as Christ in the world. And as we saw, the life of Jesus impacts all areas of creation.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC