26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.
34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
The recent shootings in Buffalo and then in Texas have reminded us that evil continues to stalk the land. We will lock up the young man in Buffalo who has committed this crime, probably with more effective chains than the townspeople of the region of the Gerasenes did with the demoniac, but will we change him? The shooter in Texas will get no opportunity to change, having died at the scene.
In 2016 Chris Buckley was filled with hate, serving as a security guard for the KKK in Georgia. He is no more. A forced encounter with an African-American woman in which he could only simply listen to her along with the friendship of a Syrian refugee has completely changed this army veteran. He has repudiated the KKK and covered up the hateful tattoos which once proclaimed his views. Now he works inside the community of racists to bring people out of that trap.
Jesus cast out a legion of demons in the man who raged in today’s reading. But when the man wanted to leave with Jesus, Jesus denied his request. Instead, he sent the man back to the very people whom he had once terrorized and who surely feared and hated him. He told him to tell the wonderful things which God has done. Mr. Buckley can speak to racists far better than I can. He knows them. I am sure the demoniac could speak to the people of his community with a certain authenticity. He must have had a great story to tell, and I am sure everyone wanted to hear it.
I read in Philippians 1:23 that even the Apostle Paul wanted to leave and be with Jesus. It is OK to wish that we could get in the boat and go with him to a better place. But Jesus has sent us back into the difficult places of this world, to tell what God has done for us. Heed His call when it comes to you too. Tell what He has done for you.