July 13, 2023

Homily Four for the Fifth Sunday of Matthew (St. Luke of Simferopol)

"On the Possessed Gadarenes"

5th Sunday of Matthew
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1958)
Regarding the great miracle of the Lord Jesus Christ, about the healing of the demon possessed Gadarene by Him, I have repeatedly told you and my former flocks. Genuine demonic possession is, of course, rare. A huge number of demons, a whole legion of them, are infused into the bodies and souls of the unfortunate demoniacs. But demons wage an unceasing struggle against every person in order to subjugate them to their power. This is what we read about this struggle in the epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

Here, of course, the Apostle calls principalities and powers not people who have power, but demons - these are different members of the spirits of wickedness in heavenly places. Against people who are called demon possessed, the spirits of malice under heaven wage an unceasing struggle for possession of their hearts, their will, their entire spiritual life, and to a greater or lesser extent achieve power over them. This struggle is the main content of the spiritual life of all people, with the exception of those who are already completely devoted to evil and unrighteousness.

However, only a few of God's chosen ones pay full attention to this tireless battle between us and demons and understand how enormous its significance is in the great work of gaining the Kingdom of Heaven. Not many understand that this struggle should be daily and hourly.

And our Lord Jesus Christ Himself reminded us of the need for a tireless and relentless struggle with demons in His parable.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Lk. 11:24-26).

A good man struggled with a demon who had taken possession of him, swept away all the dirt left from the demon, ventilated his house from the stench left after him, and his enemy had to leave him in disgrace. He wandered through waterless places and found no rest anywhere, for inaction and failure in his accursed deed of corrupting and defiling people are unbearable for him. It was unbearable for the accursed to know that the good man washed and cleansed his filth and did not succumb to it. And he took seven evil spirits to help himself, and again attacked a good man, before whom stood seven times more difficult than before, the task of fighting demons.

Let us, my brothers and sisters, remember that demons who never doze off are tirelessly working for our destruction. So we must tirelessly, daily and hourly, be vigilant in the struggle against them.

Let us tirelessly watch our hearts, constantly rattling in lies, foul language and condemnation of our neighbors with our tongue.

Let us love silence, let us get used to pronouncing a word not before thinking whether it is necessary to pronounce it or whether it is better to remain silent; let us not undertake a single deed without finding out in prayer to God whether it is pleasing to Him, and without protecting ourselves with the sign of the cross.

If we acquire these saving skills, then we will confound all our enemies, both fleshly and incorporeal.

Then they will depart from us in disgrace, like beaten dogs, the enemies of God and our cursed demons, and our Savior Jesus Christ will not have to cast out a legion of demons from us with His Divine power, as He did over the unfortunate demon possessed Gadarene.

With God's help, all of you, good people, keep your hearts from all the evil deeds and untruths of demons. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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