26Then Jesus and his disciples arrived at the country of the Gerasenes.
The translation “arrived” is perfectly good, but it obscures what is happening. Jesus and his students have arrived by sail. That reference to sailing matters because what happens to the man among the tombs is connected to the stilling of the storm from which they have just arrived. Fierce storms sweep up suddenly on the Sea of Galilee and can quickly sink a small fishing boat. They have faced destruction and witnessed Jesus rebuke the wind and raging sea and bring calm came upon them. Now Jesus is met by a man in whom another storm rages.
The only way the ancients could describe this man was to say he was possessed of demons. His soul and spirit are out of control. He lives naked among the tombs, unsheltered in the land of the dead. He cannot fit into the human community. When they restrain him, he breaks loose the chains and is driven by his demons into the barren places.
We all know something about emotions and thoughts – and sometimes lives – that spiral out of control. We know that emotional chaos we call a tantrum in a child and a breakdown in an adult. If we have not been there, we have probably walked near the border.
I have sat with patients in the hospital who were hearing a cacophony of voices and wished with all my heart I could cast them out with a word. I have seen families dissolve into rage and wished that there, too, I could cast out the chaos. And have listened to a sweet and terrified women with dementia, convinced that she had been kidnapped, begging me to help her escape what was not foreign agents but a reasonably nice nursing home.
We yearn for that day when we are each restored to our right mind and sitting at Jesus’ feet. But, until that day, we will come each Sunday to sit before Jesus’ word, to share the banquet, to taste some small measure of the peace of Christ, and rejoice in the perfect peace to come.