The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke. (8:26-39)
Every year around this time, mid-October, we hear this powerful somewhat frightening story in the gospels about a man who is possessed by demons. Modern psychologists and scientists tell us that that was probably some kind of mental illness. They tell us that the people of old were not very sophisticated and did not properly understand these things so they attributed them to superstitions. The problem with all of these theories is that they completely ignore the words and actions of Jesus of Nazareth in response to what He has encountered. In addition, these baseless theories ignore what happened to the herd of swine. Something more than psychosis was certainly at work here.
This Homily was offered by Dn. Michael Schlaack on the Feast Day of Prophet Jonah
The glory of God is often revealed to us through our small acts of faithful obedience. It is not always the big, daring, or complicated acts that bring us to a greater understanding of God and His plan for our life. Sometimes it could be a simple act of faithful obedience—maybe even while performing our normal jobs—that helps to open our eyes, so we can see the Savior Who was always before us. The lesson today deals with an important aspect of Christianity: Faithful obedience in even the smallest things will lead to greater glory.
Our lesson in St. Luke’s account opens with a scene that is repeated throughout the Gospels: Jesus teaching the multitude. As was so often the case when Jesus taught, the crowd pressed Him to the point where He asked Simon Peter to take Him out a little way from the shore so that Jesus could continue His teaching. The Gospel does not record exactly what Jesus spoke about, but at the end of the lesson, Jesus instructed Simon to go out deeper and drop the nets into the water. Jesus was going to demonstrate to the people the power of God while providing a clear illustration for His future disciples.
The Holy Spirit who dwells within us is the one who prays, since we say at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, “O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, come and abide in us…” That is, we address Him by the power that He has sent down to us. He is the one who changes us from one state to another and lifts our soul to prayer.
You have stripped your soul of its lusts and caprices and made it a dwelling-place of God. He moves us to Himself, as though God in prayer addresses Himself. The Lord enters into you with the Holy Spirit. He strips your soul of its lusts and makes it capable of talking to Him. When you address the Holy Spirit at the beginning of every prayer, “O Heavenly King, the Comforter…” the spirit of evil flees from you and the Spirit of Christ dwells within you and raises you up. You have no more words because Christ’s words come down to you and Christ addresses Himself within you and by this you become Christ Himself.