In Mark’s Gospel, after Jesus Christ delivers the Gerasene demoniac He tells him, “…Go back to your family.” With these words, The Chief Exorcist, gives his newly liberated disciple the secret to continuing freedom and protection from the demonic. The family, as a reflection of the Holy Family, is a spiritual hedge of protection from the demonic.
At a healing and deliverance conference a priest lecturer, an experienced exorcist, shared his opinion about the spiritual protection of family. He believed that a busy mom, with kids, a devoted husband, active in the community and church, would not easily become a victim of demonic obsession or possession. Why? A person whose life is filled with Godly personal relationships, a person living within a loving (not perfect) family environment does not leave room in their life for a “relationship” with an evil spirit.
The fallen angels seek relationship with persons to mock God’s relationship with His people. Demons aim to mock the Most Holy Trinity and God’s communal orientation of the human family. Demons tempt to seduce persons into mock-friendship so that a spiritual covenant is realized. This can happen if a person gives consent; his free will engages and he begins the proverbial dance with the devil. In his spiritual classic, “Screwtape Letters”, C.S. Lewis brilliantly articulates demonic strategies aimed at enticing persons away from God and into the influence of the demonic.
The family environment where God ordains the husband and wife to have a spiritual office of parenting not only protects children but also the couple and those around them. Father Michael Sweeney, O.P., President of the Berkeley Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology and a member of the Board of Directors of Catholics for the Common Good, gave a lecture in my diocese recently. He mentioned that married couples are “healed, perfected and exalted” in the context of sacramental marriage and, by their mutual self-offering they become a “sacramental” for one other and their children.
The words of Jesus to the delivered Gerasene man, “Go back to your family” are instructional. The Apostle Mark writes:
Night and day among the tombs on the mountains he was crying out, and bruising himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshipped him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him, “Send us to the swine, let us enter them.” So he gave them leave. And the unclean spirits entered the swine, and the herds … rushed down the steep bank… and were drowned in the sea.
…And as He was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. But he refused, and said to him, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled (Mark 5:5-13;18-20).
The Gerasene demoniac, newly liberated, desires to follow his “Deliverer” and begs Jesus to let him go with Him. Jesus insists that rather than getting into the boat, the man should go back to his family and tell them what the Lord has done for him.
The wealth of spiritual insight in this scripture is worthy of prayerful consideration. As we persevere on our Lenten pilgrimage it is an opportune time to ask, seek and knock on the heart of Chief Exorcist who liberates and heals us.
The parable of the Gerasene demoniac illustrates:
- Jesus, Chief Exorcist, mercifully liberates people who have become bound in chains of sin and evil. The first step toward liberation today is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is more powerful than the Rite of Exorcism because The Rite is not a sacrament.
- Jesus gave the word and the unclean spirit left the man. We can implore Jesus to speak His word to cleanse us especially at Holy Communion when we pray, “…Only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
- Fidelity to our vocation in life is a spiritual hedge of protection. The healed Gerasene disciple was told to go back to his family as the path of following Jesus.
- The Gerasene man was set free from demonic possession and necessary inner healing would continue in the context of his family.
- Jesus told His newly delivered disciple to tell his family what God had done for him. The devil is defeated by personal testimony as revealed in Revelation 12:11: “And they have conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” When we proclaim God’s marvelous deeds we are defeating evil.
Fallen angels advocate for Satan and work to lead persons to eternal damnation where there is deprivation of relationship with God; no love at all. The demonic realm is pure hatred of God and man but it is relational for the purpose of tempting persons.
The Catechism articulates the truth of the fallen angels:
391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called “Satan” or the “devil.” The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.”
393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy that makes the angels’ sin unforgivable. “There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, jut as there is no repentance for men after death.”
As we progress on the journey toward Easter, it may be helpful to ponder the Lord’s words to the demoniac…”go back to your family.” How are your family relationships? Are they in need of resurrection? What can you do to gather family members back into the merciful embrace of a forgiving family? Are you called to be a vessel of Divine Mercy?
Angelologists concur that roughly one third of the angels are fallen but two thirds of the angels are magnificent messengers of God who bless us. They defend us mightily from the fallen angels. We are not alone in the “good fight.” We have a powerful guardian angel and many angelic messengers of God surrounding us with protection. Devotion to Saint Michael is prudent! Sacramental marriage and family also provides an effective armor of protection.
Jesus, Chief Exorcist, please deliver, heal and exalt the family. Amen.