Sunday, June 23, 2013

When Pigs Swim

From Mean2behappy blog

Today' s Gospel reading was Luke 8:26-39,
Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’— for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Legion’; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
Our guest preacher today was one of our congregants who related his personal spiritual journey and the many demons he encountered along the way along with his personal resurrections and saviours.

I suppose he could have tied his personal story in with the Gospel a little better and perhaps used the last sentence of today's Gospel reading to speak to what he was doing today, "So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him" but that's probably just the critic in me speaking.

I have always wondered about the demons in this story. They are far better at detecting the presence of God than most of us, but in spite of their abilities, they cannot foresee the results of the error of jumping into a herd of swine. Demons are pretty sneaky, and I always thought they were clever when compared with us, but they aren't so smart when compared to God.

I guess the demons were doomed anyway once Jesus appeared so it didn't matter what they wanted to do at that point. Their bacon was fried. 

I liked Bishop Dan Martins' take on it,
"The setting for this incident is a cemetery, a graveyard. And nearby is a herd of pigs. To Jewish sensibilities of the time, these were both highly offensive conditions, symbolizing every sort of four uncleanness imaginable. For us the cultural equivalent might be a sewage treatment plant next to a rat colony. So what this means is that Jesus is taking the offensive. He is going right into the belly of the beast to do battle. He’s not waiting for Evil to come to him; he’s bringing the fight to Ground Zero of Evil—a graveyard next to a herd of swine. And right there, at symbolic Ground Zero, Jesus wins. Jesus is triumphant. Jesus conquers the powers of darkness right on their own home field. The spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God, the evil powers of this world that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God, the sinful desires that draw us from the love of God—everything that we renounce when we’re baptized and when we’re confirmed—are cast out of us by Jesus just as he cast the legion of demons out of that man on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee." (Read the rest here)

Pigs can but those pesky demons can't swim in the water of baptism.

Thanks be to God. 

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