“And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.) And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country.”
The Gospel According to St. Luke, Chapter 8, Verses 26 to 34
We don’t know much of the man Christ encountered as he entered Gadarenes, not even a name is truly given for him. We have no idea if he was a good or a bad man, if he was poor man or a rich man, if he was very weak or very strong. Nothing is told except that now… now he lived like a wild beast in the wilderness, tortured and tormented, his spirit and his soul in constant agony and pain. Evil had found a home in him and for him… for him there was no peace.
No home, no peace, no comfort, no rest…
We are told much, and so much we’re left to imagine…
His soul under constant barrage, in those fleeting instances of clarity he perhaps had, one has to think he wished that he could die, that the sorrow and the anguish was just too much for him to bear. Then the demons would once more awaken and any hope of escape would be chased from his mind, leaving him with nothing but the cruel fate that was inflicted on him that cased him so much suffering and distress.
Yet, despite all that he had known, despite the darkness that so afflicted his spirit, encompassing him in the evil that it brought, it was not the end of his story… it was the beginning of his journey…
As Christ came to the lands he knew, the man would come while he was still outside the city, appearing before him as he prepared to enter. Yet where the people had chained him, and drove him out of the city, the Savior did not fear him when he saw him, nor did He turn His eyes from him. One could only imagine the compassion that Jesus had for him, to see this man as an animal, with nothing, hated and reviled by those who feared him, lost to those who loved him, exiled for the remaining days of his life with no redemption in sight.
In love and mercy for the lost and the pained, the troubled and the afflicted Christ would look upon him, asking his name. The voice He heard perhaps was startling, deep and carrying an echoing weight behind it, as if to magnify the power of those demons that had so entrenched themselves in this man’s soul. They knew the face they looked upon now and the Spirit in which He came. Their only hope was to try and scare Him with their power and their numbers, that he might leave them to feast on this man.
Yet Christ would not be so swayed or so moved by them… in a moment He would cast them out to their death… in a lake they would drown with the swine they were thrown amidst, sent once more far from to the dark places, the dark reaches from whence they came, no longer to torture this man.
Captivity comes upon us in many forms, in many ways, and shapes. It’s not always in the way that we think or the way we perceive, but the constant is that it shatters the way we see the world, and the peace of those who it has in its grasp. The constant is that it is inflicted by darkness and evil, by those who view life as cheap and feed themselves off of the humanity of others.
Whether it is in the hostages, once free men, now taken from their homes and their loved ones, or the prisoners who are held in meager estate, unjustly held, their lives now given to the mercy of unmerciful men, whether it’s the slaves that are bought and sold, whipped and beaten, treated as animals or the girls ripped from the street to be purchased by the highest bidder, her innocence ripped from her, her dignity destroyed, it is because darkness so entrenches itself in the hearts and the souls of men.
Yet, God does not forget these children, nor does He turn His eyes from them, no longer to look upon their faces. He does not leave them, forsaking them to the wickedness of this world and the iniquity that can rule over the hearts of men. He does not fail them in their hour of need.
We may not know their stories, we may not know their names, but God looks deep in their souls and there He gives them the strength and the peace that they so long for, that they so desire.
There is no captivity, there no slavery that can separate us from the power of the Lord through the healing touch of Christ, there is no darkness that can so entrench itself in this world that cannot be illuminated by the light of the Spirit shining forth. Though it may seem like all we see is chaos and pain, suffering and torment, anguish and agony, unsure of how to deal with it or how we may fix it, God sees through it, His compassion and mercy, His love and His kindness casting away all the iniquity and wickedness that so inflicts itself on His children. Those we love may seem lost to us, but God, He restores them unto us by His Holy name through His Holy Spirit, in the love of His Son Christ Jesus.
Trust therefore in the Lord, even when days are long and the anguish seems too much, for He shall be there, coming to further shores of the distant lands to reveal His light and His love for His children. Just as He has been there in the days of old, so too shall He be with all the lost souls, all the captive spirits, all the tormented hearts today. There is no captivity that He cannot set His children free from, no bondage that He cannot shatter , there is no darkness he cannot chase from those hidden places, and according to His precepts He shall, in His time, do all things for the good of His children, according to His promises.
Though captivity may come in many forms, it cannot elude the Lord God Almighty and the power of His Might. Thanks be to His Holy Name for that.