Death in the World—Sixth Sunday of Luke

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.

Our world, our society, is deeply obsessed with death.  And this obsession has led to the delusion that it does not exist—it has become the elephant in the room.  Death now happens in sterilised places far from us—in hospitals and in hospices—while we are all encouraged to do our best to look young and beautiful, in our prime.  Funerals have been replaced with “celebrations of life” because the finality of life is too hard to face: we are all, unless the Lord appears first, going to die.

And our society maintains this pretence, on the precipice of the tomb without being able to face it, because it has made a deal with the fallen gods—those of Youth, of Money, of Ignorance, of Beauty, of Entertainment, of Food—to provide a distraction against reality, to remain anesthetised and numb, to live outside our rightful home in the desert and wilderness.

Into this the Lord comes to drive out the demons, the fallen gods, and he does it with a word.  The man comes to know God and his power but this is utterly scary to his society.  The Gospel of the Kingdom—that Christ has defeated his enemies and brings life—does not conform to the understanding of the world, it is to them both a stumbling block and foolishness (see 1 Corinthians 1:23).  And the world, like those of the country of the Gadarenes, tries to push Christ away.  It is only Christ who can heal, who can expel demons from hearts and bring about true freedom rather than slavery to the Evil One, and the world rejects its Saviour.

But, my brothers and sisters, the demons are on the run.  Whatever power we might think they hold over our society, Christ has defeated them and we are called to continue the battle against the Enemy.  You and I are here to pray for our world that their defeat be completed and that all may turn to Christ.  Every time people turn to these fallen gods to distract them from death they are choosing the losing side, every time I do so I am choosing the losing side and I am called to repent from this and turn again to Christ.  Only the Church can offer to our society what it needs to hear: that we, each one of us, must die but we will not be held by Death because Christ is risen.  That we, each one of us, can choose freedom over slavery.  That we, each one of us, are created in the image of God and have infinite value and worth.  That we, each one of us, are loved by God who desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are here to live out this calling, to be Christ’s body in the world, to free ourselves and our neighbours from the tyrants that hold us captive.  And as weapons of this, the Church gives us the only thing that can achieve this: the Church gives us Christ himself.  Accept him today, and every day, that we be found worthy followers of him.

To our risen Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ the Victor, be all glory honour and might, together with his Unbegotten Father and the All-Holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit, Amen.

Brethren, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
— Second Corinthians 9:6–11

At that time, as Jesus arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, there met him a man from the city who had demons; for a long time he had worn no clothes and he lived not in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him; he was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters, but he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them leave. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. When the herdsmen saw what happened, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus, and 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. And those who had seen it told them how he who had been possessed with demons was healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gadarenes asked him to depart from 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 he sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
—Luke 8:26–39