The whole town came out to meet Jesus,
and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.
Today's Gospel reading is Matthew's account of when our Lord came to a place called Gadara and encountered two men who were demon-possessed. The Scripture says they were so fierce that no one could pass through that way. But Jesus simply commanded them to come out and the men were freed. However, Jesus gave the demons permission to enter some nearby pigs which sent them careening down the hill to be drowned in the sea. The local merchants weren't terribly happy, or impressed. Their response was to implore Jesus to leave their area.
This strikes me as almost humorous, but also as very sad. The people had lived with these demoniacs presumably for quite some time. They had become comfortable living with them; so much so that they actually preferred the chaos of the demoniacs over the peace of Christ. How could this be?
But then I think of how it is in our lives. We too have become comfortable with the demonic. Think I'm crazy? Most of us would prefer two hours in front of the television with perversion, profanity, and violence to fifteen minutes in prayer with Jesus. Isn't that the same as being at home with the demonic and uncomfortable with Jesus?
Take it a bit further. We endure the chaos of our fast-paced life. We think this is normal. Everyone lives this way. We are overstressed (which is not the same thing as overworked as work done for the Lord is very satisfying), worried, anxious, and usually in a hurry to do it all. Yet, we have become comfortable with this way of life.
Jesus offers us peace. He offers us rest. He offers us true joy. But it must come in His way. It's not because He's an egocentric tyrant. It's because He truly does know what is best for us. Because of His great love for us, He yearns that we would have all of these blessings and so much more. But it goes even further than this. The simple fact is that God really loves us and longs to simply be loved in return. It's really all about relationship. We were created for this, but we run from it and try to find that same satisfaction in just about anything else. It can't be done. As St. Augustine said, "You created us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You."
If you find yourself in the midst of the demonic chaos of life, stop! Listen for the liberating word of Jesus and respond by welcoming Him in to stay, not driving Him away!