- 1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a
- Psalm 42 and Psalm 43
- Galatians 3:23-29
- Luke 8:26-39
The thread for today’s readings is the difficulty in overcoming evil forces. In the Old Testament lesson, the Prophet Elijah has been threatened with death by Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab. Elijah flees to the wilderness in fear, feeling that he has failed in his calling as a prophet of the Lord. And in the Gospel reading, Jesus comes face to face with evil – “a man of the city who had demons.”
The pericope before today’s Gospel passage is the story of Jesus calming the violence of the wind and waters while on the Sea of Galilee, showing his authority over spiritual forces. The disciples show fear.
The disciples are again afraid as they come ashore and encounter the Gerasene demoniac, a naked madman who has escaped from confinement to live among the tombs in a graveyard, hounded by demons and despised by society. Calling himself Legion (suggesting he was possessed by 6,000 demons since a Roman legion had 6,000 men), “they” beg Jesus not to order them to go back into “the abyss” or dwelling place of the dead. Jesus shows his authority over the demons, sending them into a nearby heard of pigs, that in their confusion with being possessed, run into a body of water and drown.
Again, the people respond with fear instead of faith. Not understanding what they have witnessed, they ask Jesus to leave. They feel threatened by further economic blows after their loss of their herd of swine, and distrust the power of the exorcism itself.
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, Jesus is revealed as the source of faith that renders all prior ways of relating to God as irrelevant. Adherence to the discipline of the law previously defined what it meant to have a right relationship with God. Paul states that it is by faith that we become children of God.
Through our baptism we renounce evil and turn toward Christ. We are united with Christ no matter our race, social class, or gender. Although our inherited differences may affect our lives, we are still one in Christ Jesus. Just as with the healed demoniac, we are asked to bear witness to what God has done for us in our own community. Just as the healed man is restored to health, through Jesus we are restored to fullness of life. God’s redemption calls us to action.
- Why does Jesus’ response to the demoniac evoke awe and fear?
- How can we move from awe and fear to faith?
- From today’s Gospel, what do we learn about Jesus and his ministry?
- How were lives and understandings transformed through Jesus’ ministry in this place?
- Why do you think Jesus told the man to go back to his home rather than to follow him?
- What challenges do Paul’s words (that all human divisions are as nothing in our life in Christ) present? How are we called to live out this unity in the world today?
Image: An illustration, ca. 1487 A.D., of Christ expelling “unclean spirits” from a man
- Lectionary sermon for 23 June 2013 Year C on Luke 8: 26 -39 (Pr 7 C, Ord 12C, Pentecost + 5) (billpeddie.wordpress.com)
- Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – 1 Kings 19:6-8 (panoramicviews.wordpress.com)
- Don’t Be Afraid (rowsofsharon.com)