Beloved brethren, in the Gospel reading assigned to the Sixth Sunday of Luke, we read the encounter between our Lord and the Demoniac of the Gadarenes Luke 8:26-40. This Gospel reading teaches us a great deal about the mighty power of God and also about the demons. Perhaps most striking in this Gospel is what happens when the demoniac first sees the Lord, for behold:
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.
We see that the demons believe in God, though they despise Him, and they fear Him. In the Gospel of Saint Mark we also read:
And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. Mark 3:11
So many are the poor and misguided in this age who subscribe to a creed that they need only to believe in God to be saved. Clearly, the demons believed as well.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. James 2:19
As we read further into the Gospel of Luke, we find something most curious:
And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.
The demons know of the place of torment appointed for them and strangely they beseech the Lord not to send them to this place, which is reserved for them at the end of time,
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 2Peter 2:4
In his commentary on this episode, the Blessed Theophylact demonstrates the wickedness of the demons:
See how the demon is torn between two wicked passions: impudence and fear. When he says, What have I to do with Thee? he shows the impudence of a shameless slave; when he says, I beseech Thee, he shows his fear. He was dwelling among the tombs because he wanted to instill in men the false suspicion that the souls of those who have died become demons.
The demons attempt to trick us by any method, instilling fear and helplessness. Some might ask why the Lord did not banish the demons to the fires of Gehenna. Blessed Theophylact further explains why the Lord did not banish the demons forever and shows us the greater significance of what has transpired:
The demons ask not to be cast into the abyss, but that they be permitted to remain a while longer upon the earth. The Lord permits them to remain upon the earth so that they might fight and contend with men, and thus render men tested veterans. If man had no adversaries, there would be no struggles and contests; and if there were no contests, there would be no crowns of victory. There is a more spiritual sense which you should learn as well: the man who has demons within him and wears no garment and makes his home outside the house, is anyone who does evil and demonic deeds, who has stripped himself of his baptismal robe, and dwells outside the Church. Such a man is not worthy to enter into the Church, but instead he lives in the tombs of dead and rotting deeds, for example, in brothels and in the chambers of publicans and graft. These are indeed tombs of iniquity.
One with limited understanding might incorrectly assert that the demons remain on Earth because they are greater than our Lord but this is not so, for the sacred Scripture attests to many incidents between Jesus Christ, the God-man, and the demons. We can also see that the Lord empowered His Disciples to cast out demons. We read in the Book of Acts of a rather humorous incident, indirectly involving the Apostle Paul:
13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14 And there were seven sons of [one] Sceva, a Jew, [and] chief of the priests, which did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. Acts 19:13-16
By such accounts, the Scriptures teach us the demons exist and they are quite active in the world. Let us take heart for our Lord has not abandoned us. Even in these latter times, the Church has been invested with great Fathers and wonder-workers who cast out the demons, confirming once and for all that we have nothing to fear when we place all of our hope, trust, and faith in our Lord.