28 August OS 2020 – Thursday of the 14th Week of Matthew, St. Moses the Ethiopian
You can listen to a recording of this commentary at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/14-matt-thurs
In today’s Gospel, the Lord casts a legion of demons out of the Gadarene demoniac.
And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel. – Mark 5: 1-20
A legion in the Roman army at full strength numbered 6,000 men. This man’s being possessed by a “legion” of demons means, therefore, that there were thousands of demons inside of him. How could this be? St. Theophan the Recluse explains:
“My name is Legion: for we are many (Mark 5:9).” Spirits are bodiless, and therefore they do not fill or take up space like bodies. This explains why it is physically possible for many spirits to reside in one person. That it is possible morally for spirits to do this is understandable from their amorality or their absence of all moral principles. That it is possible for people is understandable from their many-sided contact with the dark realm of the unclean powers, due to the way people’s souls are ordered. But this only explains what is possible; the reality of demonic possession is subject to conditions which we do not have the ability to determine. We can only say that spirits do not always enter in a visible way, and possession is not always demonstrated through the possessed person’s actions. There is an unseen, hidden demonic possession. There is also a power of spirits over minds, apart from the body, when the demons lead them wherever they wish, through the passions working in them. People think that they are acting themselves, but they are actually the laughingstocks of unclean powers. What can we do? Be a true Christian, and no enemy power shall overcome you. – Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, pp. 186-187
Apart from the power of true Faith and Baptism, man has always been the prisoner and slave of his passions and of demons acting through his passions and sometimes even possessing him bodily. During the long period of the Church’s direct or indirect influence on society, she kept the demonic powers in check. Now, one hundred years after the restraining power of Christian authority was taken away, and with the resulting final apostasy of the formerly Christian nations into secularism, all the world is engulfed in a tide of demons and passions, and, humanly speaking, there is no end in sight. We need not fear it, for we belong to Christ. But we need to be vigilant and to take action. We do not throw ourselves off a cliff and ask angels to catch us.
It is critical, indeed a matter of spiritual – and probably physical – life and death, to cut out demonic influences in our lives and the lives of those for whom we are responsible, chiefly our children. It is not an exaggeration to say that demonic mental programming, either overt or hidden, pervades contemporary movies, television (including “the news,” which in fact is simply the propaganda of the anti-Christian elite), video games, and the Internet, in the form of hypnotically powerful imagery, and an endless barrage of lies and deception, and occult ritual actions and symbols. That there may be innocent productions coming out of the media establishment is a theoretical possibility, but sifting through a pile of toxic waste to find something to consume that will not kill you is a time-consuming and risky process.
And what about the Internet? Here I am, using it, to get this message across. The answer is simple – use it as a tool, for a limited time each day, but do not live in it as an alternate universe. If it gives you access to good things – good books, good articles, good videos – great! Today we obviously need the Internet to find accurate information from sources outside the corporate media, who are obviously just the propaganda ministry of the Luciferian world-state. And it is also true that many Orthodox Christians who are lonely and spiritually isolated find fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ they previously did not know were out there, much as the Lord revealed to the Prophet Elias the 7,000 men who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Thank God we now, at least for the time being, have access to these good things that were previously unavailable, and that we have the ability to enjoy this unexpected consolation in good communications with those of like soul. But, as we all know, one has to practice discipline and discernment. Even if you are talking to good friends and acquiring necessary information, do not live glued to your computer. Keep track of your time on the Internet for a few days: How much time did you spend on truly necessary activity, and how much time did you waste when you could have been doing something else? How many temptations arose? If there were x number of obvious temptations, how many subliminal or unnoticed temptations also entered your mind? Who knows? Be careful. I suggest that you keep an icon right there in front of you while you are on your media device (of whatever kind), and always say a prayer before you turn it on. I have not yet seen a synodically approved prayer for exorcising computers and smart phones, but I hope that we will soon have one.
Children do not need and most often will be harmed by video games, television, the computer, and the smart phone. Be strict. You will save their lives. They will probably have to use computers when they grow older, of course (unless a cataclysmic world war returns us to pre-modern living conditions). They can learn what they need to know to get started with computers when they are teenagers, in about fifteen minutes. In the meantime, reading good books with mom and dad at the kitchen table is the way to go.
There are precious and few hours in the day. The time at home we do not really have to spend on the computer should be spent on activities that pre-date the age of virtual reality: prayer with the family, reading good books both spiritual and secular, singing good songs and telling good stories, taking walks, growing vegetables and taking care of animals, working around the house, and on and on. There is a good list of good things our very recent ancestors spent their time on, that had nothing whatsoever to do with computers, handheld Internet devices, television, radio, video games, professional sports, or the popular music industry. Nearly all of these “old” activities, which are not really old but timeless, are still available to us. As they say, “Just do it.”
“Alright, Father Steven, I agree with you,” you might be thinking. “But what can I do? I am already enmeshed in a virtual life on the Internet almost all my waking hours.”
I shall respond with what St. Theophan says above: “What can we do? Be a true Christian, and no enemy power can overcome you.” Let’s get serious and start struggling to spend more time in prayer, in good works for others, and useful occupations. Let’s use our leisure time in wholesome reading and wholesome hobbies, or driving old ladies to the grocery store, or teaching a child to read, or visiting the sick, or helping a priest start a new mission, or teaching catechism at our parish, or starting a spiritual book discussion group for our friends…or…or – you know the list is endless. If you do not have the strength to give up this or that, or to re-order your priorities, confess it with tears and do not justify it, and keep praying for the strength to change. The Lord desires our conversion and salvation more than we do.
The Good News is that we are not the hopeless, helpless slaves of the dystopian anti-Paradise, the prison of the mind, the mindless hive of contented monkey-descended sensualists, being put into place before our very eyes at this very moment in history by the visible and invisible rulers of the satanic world-state. We are children of God, citizens of the Heavenly Jerusalem, and members of the Body of Christ. By Faith and Baptism, we have been freed forever from service to Satan, whom we renounced at Holy Baptism, along with “…all his works, all his service, and all his pride.”
As they say, “Just do it.” Let us make the Sign of the Cross and charge ahead.