Sunday sermon November 14, 2021
The Gadarene Demoniac: Luke 8: 26 – 39
By Fr Nicholas Karipoff
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Last Sunday we heard the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus and that gave us a picture of transformation in hell. Today the story of the Gadarene Demoniac is another image of this transformation through hell. Look at the difference in the whole image of this man before and after, at the beginning of the story and at the end. He’s completely different, a transformed man. Torment and angst disappear, and Christ brings peace to him. Now we don’t know the pre-history of this man, why he found himself in this hell on earth. Clearly he caused it himself, but it was, on the other hand, for his salvation as well. It was for his liberation from the torment and destruction.
In recent months, over the past 18 or 19 months or so, many people have been anxious and angry about our viral hell, the hell caused by this virus since last year. Sinful humanity always seeks someone else to blame. We always look for a scapegoat. We intensify our hell by blaming each other. Instead, we should blame ourselves as the Holy Fathers teach. A whole spiritual culture within Orthodoxy is to look at yourself first to find the problem and then to come to a measure of contrition. Then Christ will have mercy on us, He will free us from the tormenting demons, and we will acquire peace.
The second part of the story raises another point, about pigs and pig-lovers, the Gadarenes. The Bible uses the pig as an image of carnal life, devoid of spirit. These pigs in the story drown in the sea, exactly like the ancient spiritless world in the waters of the Great Flood. Only the cataclysm saves them for eternity when Christ descending into Hades, into Hell, preaches to them and brings them out of there. Pig-lovers identify with the pigs. They’re afraid of Christ. They beg him to leave them.
To understand the process of our path to liberation and salvation, we need to contemplate the three temptations of Christ. That’s another story and unfortunately doesn’t come up in Sunday readings. But it is an exceedingly important story about what Christ does straight after his baptism, fasting for forty days and then challenging the devil. Now Adam was defeated by these three temptations, and I will remind you how they come up in the story of Christ. First is bread, and that’s about the carnal, materialist life. Second is miracles or marvels, or in other words entertainments. These first two are bread and circuses! And the third one is power and authority. This is given by the prince of this world, our adversary, when he says to Christ, “fall down and worship me and I’ll give you power over all the kingdoms of the world”. This is a big, important topic. And as a matter of fact, in our Gospel studies which are broadcast every fortnight on YouTube, we’re coming up to this story of Christ’s temptation. We’ll be discussing it this Sunday, November 21, at 7pm; the topic is Christ’s baptism and His defeat of Satan in the desert.
Now we Christians must understand these dynamics. The temptations are always present. They’re very intense in today’s world. Very intense. By yielding to them over decades, we have yielded to the legion of demons which brings the hell on the outside, and on the inside as well if we’re not careful.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Free us from the hell of our own making. Amen.