Learning from Legion

A hymn of St. Ephrem based on Luke 8:26-39, the Gadarene Demoniac

In a fascinating poem, St. Ephrem sees Christ showing mercy to the demon, even granting the demon’s request, which emboldens Emphrem to be a man of prayer: if Christ compassionately listens tot he request of a demon to enter into swine, then I should know that Christ will hear my prayer to be permitted into Paradise despite my sins.

Look too at Legion:

  When in anguish he begged,

our Lord permitted and allowed him

  to enter into the herd;

respite did he ask for, without deception,

  in his anguish,

and our Lord in His kindness

  granted his request.

His compassion for demons

  is a rebuke to that People,

showing how much anguish His love suffers

  in desiring that men and women should live.

 

Encouraged by the words

  I had heard,

I knelt down and wept there,

  and spoke before the Lord:

“Legion received his request from You

without any tears;

  permit me, with my tears,

to make my request,

  grant me to enter, instead of that herd,

the Garden,

  so that in Paradise I may sing

of its Planter’s compassion.

(St Ephraim the Syrian Hymns on Paradise pgs 163-164)

3 thoughts on “Learning from Legion

  1. David Lindblom

    Thank you for posting this. I am myself going through another season of doubt as to whether I can live the Christian life and have trouble, at times, believing I will ever be able to remain faithful, loving and accepting of God’s grace so that I may enter into heaven at the end. Just last night my wife and I talked about how easy it is to slip off the path, how subtle the ways are in which we begin to do this. Thanks for this reassurance.

    1. Fr. Ted

      God help you on the path. Just keep in mind the images of the Gospel in which the crowds are swarming around Jesus – people literally following Him for all kinds of reasons, good and bad. Yet they followed Him and he sent none of them away: prostitutes, pharisees, disciple who betrayed him, disciple who denied him, enemies seeking to trap him, the voyeurs and curiosity seekers, those who wanted a miracle, those doubters who wanted to see a miracle, lawyers, Jews, Samaritans, Greeks, faithless, believers, sinners, the sick, keepers of Torah, tax collectors, those possessed by demons, the rich, the thief, the blind, ones having lost their faith, and those wanting only to touch the hem of His grament but nothing more. They all followed Him, sometimes crowding to get near Him, but not just for healing or forgivness but also to entrap Him and betray Him. He sent none of them away, ever being merciful. The crowd around Him was not composed only of the pious, the polite, the beautiful and the faithful. We each belong to that crowd which follows Christ.

  2. David Lindblom

    Thanks for your response. I’d never picked up on your observation. I always remind myself of these verses:

    Romans 8:32 (ESV)
    32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

    Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)
    24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,
    25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

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