Today's Gospel reading is from St Matthew, the story of Jesus visiting the country of the Gergesenes, where he healed two demon-possessed men. (St. Matthew 8:28-34, 9:1) You probably know the story... the demons cry out to Jesus, "What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God?"
And then, a short while later, they plead with Jesus, asking Him to permit them to go into a herd of swine, which He does and they do and the swine perish in the sea. A miracle occurs, the men are healed and peace restored to the country road in the land of the Gergesenes.
It's a story I've known since childhood and yet, never focused on the whole story as told today in Fr. Stephen's homily. The unusual aspect of this story is the fact that, although Jesus has restored peace and healed two men of demons, the people of the city come out to meet Jesus and ask Him to leave. "And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region"
Why would they ask Him to leave?! Most people who witnessed Jesus' miracles want to be near Him, to ask questions of Him, to be healed by Him..Are they frightened? or, unwilling to embrace the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven, which, by nature, requires something of us?
Fr. Stephen said, (paraphrase) 'When Christ comes into our life and offers change that will bring us spiritual health, very often, we don't want that responsibility; we're too content in our misery.' It's easy to complain and then take comfort in the sympathy of another.....over and over and over again. Much more difficult to accept responsibility for our own behaviors and then work to change them-- to follow the narrow way, the blessed high road. Thanks Fr. Stephen, I needed to hear this today!