BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo


HOMILY: * Heb 11 : 32 – 40, Mk 5 : 1 – 20.

Permit me to reflect today around an area I know not much about; the topic about demons and the deliverance ministry. I have titled it ‘The Country of the Gerasenes’ – the pagan world inhabited with evil spirits. I want to reflect briefly on the gospel meaning of Jesus driving out a legion of evil spirits from a man. When is a man said to be possessed or obsessed and how can such a person be helped? What is a man like when reason is dethroned, grace emptied and Satan enthroned? When self control departs, conscience is dead and licentiousness and all forms of atrocities take over? Rev Fr Dr Paul Martins Obayi defines possession as the indwelling habitation of a foul spirit in a person or thing while obsession is a fluctuation of presence – comes in and goes out. Psychological and Psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, manic depressions, excessive alcoholic addiction ( with stuffs like marijuana or cocaine), etc could look so much like demonic obsession /possession but are different.

Signs and symptoms of demonic obsession /possession : Sprouting obscenities, doing weird things with the crucifix or other sacramentals, entering into a frenzy or rage and attacking others, change in a person’s voice, prediction of future events (sometimes through dreams), knowledge of things that are distant or hidden. Other tell tale signs include intense hatred and reaction towards all religious objects or items, apathy towards entering a Church, speaking against Jesus’ name or hearing scriptures, unworldly physical strength and knowing language or facts foreign to the subject, etc. Watchman Nee gives the following insight : ‘The most important principle in the work of evil spirits is that one has to give ground for them to work… There are 6 kinds of ground that believers can give to evil spirits ; 1.The unrenewed mind, 2. Improper thoughts, 3. Misunderstanding God’s truth, 4. Receiving suggestions from evil spirits (prophesy, fortune telling, etc), 5. Being empty in the mind and 6. Passivity in the mind.

In today’s gospel, the following lines struck me ;
1. Jesus came over to the country of the ‘Gerazines’ – I call them pagan territories where a lot of demons disturb people.
2. A man with an unclean spirit recognized his presence – Demons will always recognize men of God.
3. No one could bind him any more, even with chains – Demoniacs manifest weird and extraordinary powers and behaviour.
4. He was always crying out and bruising himself with stones – Demoniacs destroy themselves by their own actions.
5. He recognized Jesus as Son of God before Jesus commanded the spirit to come out of him – Only through the name of Jesus can our spiritual authority for real deliverance come from.
6. His name was legion because they were many – unclean spirits work in company.
7. People’s reaction to Jesus after his deliverance ministry was to ask him to leave their neighborhood – People’s reaction towards deliverance ministers even today has remained the same.

We continue to see the following signs of demonic obsessions and possessions in our society today, especially in Africa but we are yet to understand them thoroughly;
1. Witchcraft spirits ( Amosu) that manifest in form of attacks on people at night when they sleep.
2. Ancestral spirits ( Inyama ogbanje) where people receive esoteric prophetic powers through the spirit of dead ancestors.
3. Marine spirits ( Mammy water) that operate more in river rine areas.
4. Spiritual husbands ( Di azu) that disturb young ladies from marriage like the spirit of Asmodeus mentioned in the book of Tobit.
5. Occult grandmasters ( Dibia afa) that develop spiritual powers with which they kill people or evoke their spirits in evil ways.

Only faith in Jesus Christ can see us through these demonic machinations around our pagan environment. Fear and ignorance have continued to magnify the powers of the devil and making people see the devil even where he does not exist. Sin and corruption have continued to make people more preys to their powers. Doubting the powers and operations of the devil completely has also not helped matters. We need a lot of faith, experience and discernment in issues about demonology to be able to help people who have related problems.

May God bless you today.

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