Sermon by Protopriest Rostislav Gan on the 5th Sunday After Pentecost
On the healing of the possessed man in Gadara.
Entering the land of Gadara, also known as Gergesene, the Lord exorcized evil spirits from two possessed men. By the demons’ own request, He allowed them to enter a herd of swine, which became mad and rushed off a cliff into a lake and drowned.
There are a few moments of note here: first of all, cases of possession were once very apparent to all. But there were instances of subtle possession which are expressed in different ways.
At the time, the land of Galilee and its residents, though Jews, were greatly despised by other Jews. They often met with heathens and did not adhere strictly to Mosaic law. They forgot or ignored him, even violating what had been prohibited, eating and herding swine was strictly forbidden by Moses.
But for them this was profitable, and so they ignored the law of Moses. That is why the Lord punished them, allowing the legion of demons to invade the pigs in order to bring the locals to their senses through material loss.
Dark powers usually possess a person when he begins to forget and neglect Divine law. The greater the neglect and rejection, the greater the power, or the broader the scope, of possession can take place.
There are possessed people even today. This is on a massive scale, but it is covered by a layer of benevolence, so people don’t notice it.
Doesn’t our entire modern civilization serve Satan? Don’t all the conditions of contemporary human life lead to pleasing Satan instead of God? That is why Satan does not openly demonstrate possession, for he doesn’t wish to reveal his power, because mankind does his will voluntarily, without even realizing it!
All of our technological progress is directed to bringing the spiritual state of mankind to its lowest level.
If we know that savages, for instance, became such not from progress, but from regression, that is, by debasement, the descent of man from the higher to the lower, we still witness that they have a certain culture, their own values. They also retain some of the natural talents which were innate to uncorrupted man.
Contemporary man, enjoying all the pleasures of civilization, departs from natural life. That is why those gifts that nature had given him, or the laws inserted by the Lord God, have been lost by modern man. He no longer has a real organic bond with nature, over which he was made master, and so nature has finally eluded his control. All of our technology does violence over nature, is a distortion of nature. We all know how catastrophic the result is following the systematic, unwise destruction of the nature around us.
It is characteristic of a person who loses God to destroy everything; to destroy himself, his very life, those around him, future generations.
It is interesting to note that amid today’s social transformations, where everyone talks about personal freedom, full emancipation, mankind is being led into slavery. Wherever we are told that man should be freed from physical labor, he is more and more enslaved.
Our civilization is leading to that very same lake in Gadara where the swine drowned. Humanity is rushing towards a similar fate. We shouldn’t fool ourselves with hope or wear rose-colored glasses about our future.
People who easily succumb to the lure of so-called civilization do not only forget culture but lose it. As they lose culture, they lose their spiritual sensibilities, spiritual sensitivity, they become like animals, then complete brutes. I must say that when a person descends to such a level, then animals are much better than he.
That is why the return to culture is so important, so necessary, in order to understand spiritual values which elevate a person, which make him valuable. The manifestation of these spiritual values lead a person to genuine mastery over nature.
A person becomes a true master over the earth only when he obtains real spiritual culture.
This culture, once again, no longer exists. We can only gain nourishment from what came before us, our roots which have a thousand-year history. If we return to those roots, then, we will not lose our culture but regain it, then, with God’s help, we will find the path that is needed for our spiritual growth. Amen.