Matthew 8:28-34 NRSVue
28When he came to the other side, to the region of the Gadarenes, two men possessed by demons came out of the tombs and met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29Suddenly they shouted, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. 31The demons begged him, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32And he said to them, “Go!” So they came out and entered the swine, and suddenly, the whole herd stampeded down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the water. 33The swineherds ran off, and, going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the men possessed by demons. 34Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their region.
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Some thoughts on this scripture
The location of this story says a lot about Jesus. It is in Gentile territory, where Jews would not normally go. Sometimes when they went ‘to the other side', the disciples did not even leave the boat, through fear or intolerance of the other on ‘the other side'. Even the people there ask Jesus to leave after the miracle. Traditions are too entrenched for him to be welcomed there just yet. Jesus is always the man if the other side, the stranger, the ones nobody wants to know. His life criss-crosses from one side to the other of the lake, from one people to another. He is the man for all peoples.
Jesus was a man 'of the other side'. He moved to gentile and dangerous areas with little thought to his own safety, intent on the mission of his father. There he met the forces of evil - of prejudice and hatred. He still calls us to unity - his vision is to unite all peoples in the love of God his Father. His vision also is to reconcile the goodness and evil in every human heart, and to reconcile us to ourselves in the love of the Father who loves us as we are.
The city gate represents a point of power, a place where local and stranger meet. My prayer may be deeply personal but is never entirely private. It will always affect how I live with others, how I am in public. I seek good now for myself and for all those with whom I live.
I pray that I may be drawn to what is good and turn easily from what is evil