The Gospel today continues to show the authority of Jesus over unclean spirits. This time, there was a man who lived among the tombs and no one can restrain him any more, even with a chain… night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. We see here the effects of demonic possession. While demonic possession is not common, we see in these examples what the devil does to us. He wants us to live among the dead and sometimes, this power that drives us is too strong that no one can control it. Like this man, the devil also aims to hurt us. We must not imagine that these acts of the devil will manifest in our lives clearly. But the devil does these in subtle ways, through sin. Sin lets us stay separated from God. It sometimes controls us that it has become a habit that is difficult to break. Sin hurts us. This is one of the failures of today’s society, that lead people to think, the devil does not exist, or that bad habits can be broken by human will power.
The Gospel tells us, the influence of the demons was so strong, no one can restrain the person possessed. Very often also, sin is so embedded in us, that no human being can break us free from it. But the Gospel does not stop there. We see what happened when the man saw Jesus. The demons in the man were so terrified they said: What have you to do with me, Jesus Son of the Most High God. I adjure you by God, do not torment me. The mere presence of Jesus makes the demon in the man tremble. What is more interesting is when Jesus asked the demon’s name, the demon answered Legion, for we are many. The Roman Legion is made up of 10,000 soldiers. So by saying this, the demon implies there are at least a thousand demons in the man and despite their number and their power, they are still terrified of Jesus!
Demons are real, but they have no power when they confront Jesus, no matter how many they may be. In fact, they had to beg Jesus to let them enter a great herd of swine. Demons cannot do anything without God’s permission. Which is why we should not be afraid of them when we are in the Lord. Yes, God may allow demons to disrupt our lives, but God will not allow this to happen without a reason. The First Reading tells us about people who suffered because of their faith.
Others were tortured, refusing to accept release … to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, detitute, persecuted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. We will suffer, and sometimes, there may be no end to the suffering. But the First Reading tells us even if these did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect. Sufferings happen for a reason: to lead us to perfection. Sufferings take away everything we trust. When we suffer due to sickness, our health is taken from us. When we suffer due to loss of job, our wealth is taken from us. When we suffer due to people betraying us, those whom we trusted are taken from us. God uses sufferings to divest us of everything, so what is left is himself. Some may say, then God is such a bad person because he wants people for himself. From a human perspective, yes, that’s true. Unless we realize that true life is found only in God. God wants us for himself because this is how we find fullness of life.
For those who have bad habits, or addictions, for those who are suffering, for those who had been betrayed, life is difficult and I admit that. But the door towards conquering the sufferings is through Jesus Christ, who alone has authority over every evil, including our sufferings. It is only through Jesus that we triumph over our sufferings.
Lord, I am tired of fighting against my addictions. I am tired of the sufferings I have. I am tired of wandering around life aimlessly. I surrender my life to you. Take charge Lord and lead me to where you want me to go.