Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
1774-1824
Vol 3

This document is: ACE_3_0081

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Table of Contents for this Volume
Cover page with links to All Volumes (1 to 4)

Two Possessed

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 attended by a hundred heathen herdsmen and their boys. The marsh, which was about three quarters of an hour southeast of Gergesa, at the foot of the moun­tain of Gamala, discharged its boggy waters south­ward into the ravine over a dam of logs and heavy planks that changed the brook above it into a swamp. The superfluous waters flowed through the ravine into the Sea of Galilee. Numbers of huge oaks grew near the marsh and on the sides of the ravine. No part of this region was very fertile, and only in a few sunny places grew some vines. They had also a kind of reed from which sugar can be made, but they exported it in its crude state.

It was not so much their idolatrous worship that subjected the people of this region to the power of the devil, as the depth to which they were sunk in sorcery. Gergesa and the surrounding places were full of wizards and witches who carried on their dis­orders by means of cats, dogs, toads, snakes, and other animals. They conjured up these creatures, and even went around in their form injuring and killing men. They were like werewolves that can hurt peo­ple even at a distance, that take revenge after a long time upon those whom they hate, and that can raise storms at sea. The women used to brew some kind of a magical beverage. Satan had entirely conquered this region, which possessed innumerable demoni­acs, raging lunatics, and victims of convulsions.

It was approaching ten in the morning when Jesus with some of the disciples mounted a little boat, crossed the brook some distance up to the stream, and rowed into the ravine. This was a shorter way than that by land. Jesus climbed the northern side of the ravine, and the disciples joined Him one after another. While He was ascending, two raging pos­sessed higher up on the mountain were running about, darting in and out of the sepulchers, casting themselves on the ground, and beating themselves with the bones of the dead. They uttered horrible

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 cries and appeared to be under the spell of some secret influence, for they could not flee. As Jesus drew nearer, they cried out from behind the bushes and rocks that lay a little higher up on the moun­tain: "Ye Powers! Ye Dominations! Come to our aid! Here comes One stronger than we!" Jesus raised His hand toward them and commanded them to lie down. They fell flat on their faces, but raising their heads again, cried out: "Jesus! Thou Son of God the Most High, what have we to do with Thee? Why art Thou come to torment us before the time? We conjure Thee in the name of God to leave us in peace!" By this time Jesus and the disciples had reached them as they lay trembling, their whole persons horribly agi­tated. Jesus ordered the disciples to give them some clothing, and commanded the possessed to cover themselves. The disciples threw to them the scarves they wore around their necks and in which they were accustomed to muffle their heads. The pos­sessed, trembling and writhing convulsively, covered themselves, as if constrained to do so against their will, arose, and cried out to Jesus not to torture them, Jesus asked: "How many are ye?" They answered, "Legion." The wicked spirits spoke always in the plural by the mouth of these two possessed. They said that the evil desires of these men were innumerable. This time the devil spoke the truth. For seventeen years these men had lived in commu­nication with him, and in the practice of sorcery. Now and then they had suffered assaults like the present, but for the last two years they had been running, frantic, around the desert. They had been entangled in all the abominations of magic.

Nearby was a vineyard on a sunny slope, and in it an immense wooden vat formed of great beams. It was not quite the height of a man, but so broad that twenty men could stand in it. The Gergeseans used to press in it grapes mixed with the juice of that intoxicating herb of which I have spoken. The juice

Devils Cast into the Swine

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 ran into little troughs and thence into large, earthen vessels with narrow necks which, when full, were buried underground in the vineyard. This was that intoxicating beverage which produced effects so fatal upon all that drank of it. The herb was about the length of one's arm, with numerous thick green leaves one above the other, and it terminated in a bud. The people of these parts used the juice in order to rouse in themselves diabolical ecstasies. On account of its inebriating vapors, the drink was prepared in the open air, though during the operation a tent was erected over the vat. The pressmen were just com­ing to their work when Jesus commanded the pos­sessed, or rather the legion in them, to overturn the vat. The two men seized the great, full vat, turned it upside down without the least difficulty, the con­tents streamed around, and the workmen fled with cries of terror. The possessed, trembling and shud­dering, returned to Jesus, and the disciples also were very much frightened. The devil now cried out by the mouth of the possessed, begging Jesus not yet to cast them into the abyss, not yet to drive them from this region, and ended by the request: "Let us go into yonder swine!" Jesus replied: "Ye may go!" At these words the two miserable possessed sank down in violent convulsions, and a whole cloud of vapors issued from their bodies in numberless forms of insects, toads, worms, and chiefly mole-crickets.

A few moments after, there arose from the herds of swine sounds of grunting and raging, and from the herdsmen shouts and cries. The swine, some thousands in number, came rushing from all quar­ters and plunged down through the bushes on the mountainside. It was like a furious tempest, min­gled with the cries and bellowings of animals. This scene was not the work of a few minutes only. It lasted a couple of hours, for the swine rushed here and there, plunging headlong and biting one another. Numbers precipitated themselves into the

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 marsh and were swept down over the waterfall, and all went raging toward the lake.

The disciples looked on disquieted, fearing lest the waters in which they fished, as well as the fish themselves, would be rendered impure. Jesus divined their thoughts, and told them not to fear, since the swine would all go down into the whirlpool at the end of the ravine. There was at this place a great pool of stagnant water completely separated from the lake by a sandbank, or strip of shore. It was overgrown with reeds and bushes, and at high water was frequently submerged. This pool was a deep abyss which, through the sandbank, had an inlet from the lake, but no outlet into the same, and in it was a whirlpool. It was into this caldron the swine plunged. The herdsmen who had, at first, run after the animals, now came back to Jesus, saw the pos­sessed who had been delivered, heard all that had happened, and then began to complain loudly of the injury done them. But Jesus replied that the salva­tion of these two souls was worth more than all the swine in the world. Then He bade them go to the owners of the swine and say that the devil, whom the godlessness of the inhabitants of this country sent into men, had by Him been driven out of the men, and that they had gone into the swine! The possessed who had been delivered, Jesus sent to their homes to procure clothing, while He Himself with the disciples went up toward Gergesa. Several of the herdsmen had already run to the city and, in consequence of the reports they spread, people came pouring out from all sides. They that had been cured at Magdala, as well as the two Jewish youths cured the day before, and most of the Jews of the city, had assembled to wait for Jesus' coming. The two pos­sessed, now cured, came back in a short time decently clothed, to hear Jesus' preaching. They were distin­guished pagans belonging to the city, relatives of some of the pagan priests.

Loss of the Swine

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The people employed in preparing the wine men­tioned above, and whose full vat had been overturned, were also running about the city, publishing every­where the loss they had sustained at the hands of the possessed. This gave rise to great alarm and uproar. Many ran to see whether they could rescue some of the swine, while others hurried out to the wine cask. The confusion lasted until after nightfall.

Jesus meanwhile was instructing on a hill about one-half hour from Gergesa. But the chief men of the city and the pagan priests sought to keep the people from Him by telling them that Jesus was a mighty sorcerer through whom great evils would come upon them. When they had taken counsel together, they sent out a deputation to Jesus with instructions to hasten and beg Him not to tarry in those parts and not to do them still greater injury. The deputies added that they recognized in Him a great magician, but begged Him to withdraw from their boundaries. They sorely lamented their swine and the overturn­ing of their brewing vat. Their fright and amazement were extreme when they beheld the two possessed, cured and clothed, sitting among the listeners at Jesus' feet. Jesus bade them dismiss their fears, because He would not trouble them long. He had come for the sake of the poor sick and possessed alone, since He knew well that the unclean swine and the infamous beverage were of more value to them than the salvation of their souls. But the Father in Heaven, who had given to Him the power to res­cue the poor people before Him and to destroy the swine, judged otherwise. Then He held up to them all their infamy, their sinful dealing in sorcery, their dishonest gains, and their demonolatry. He called them to penance, to Baptism, and offered them sal­vation. But they had the injury done them, the loss of the swine, in their heads, and so persisted in their pressing, though half-frightened request, that He would go away. After that they returned to the city.

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Judas Iscariot was particularly busy and active among the Gergeseans, for he was well-known in these parts. His mother had dwelt here with him for some time when he was still young, and just after he had run away from the family in which he had been secretly reared. The two possessed were acquaintances of his youth.

The Jews rejoiced in secret over the loss sus­tained by the Gentiles in their swine, for they were very much oppressed by them and greatly scandal­ized on account of the unclean animals. Still there were many among them who lived on easy terms with the pagans and defiled themselves with their superstitious practices.

All that had been cured on that day and the day before, as also the two possessed, were baptized by the disciples. They were very much impressed and thoroughly changed. The two possessed last deliv­ered and the two Jewish youths entreated Jesus to allow them to remain with Him and be His disci­ples. To the two last delivered, Jesus replied that He would give them a commission, namely, they should go through the ten villages of the Gergeseans, show themselves everywhere, and everywhere relate what had happened to them, what they had heard and seen, call the inhabitants to penance and Baptism, and send them to Him. He added that they should not be troubled if they were greeted by a shower of stones from those whom they addressed. If they exe­cuted this commission properly, they should receive in recompense the spirit of prophecy. Then they would always know where to find Him, in order to send thither those that desired to hear His teachings, and they should impose hands on the sick, who would thereby be healed. Having thus spoken, Jesus blessed the two young men, who on the next day began their mission, and later on became disciples.

The Apostles in baptizing here used water that they had brought with them in leathern bottles. The

A Great Crowd

87

 people knelt in a circle around them, and they bap­tized three at a time out of the basin that one held, sprinkling each three times with water scooped up in the hand.

That evening Jesus and the disciples entered Gergesa, and went to the house of the ruler of the synagogue. Then came the magistrates of the city urging the ruler to make Jesus depart as soon as possible, and threatening to hold Him responsible for any further injury the city might sustain at His hands. Jesus told the disciples that He had per­mitted the demons to overturn the vat and to enter into the swine, that the proud pagans might see that He was the Prophet of the Jews whom they so shame­fully despised and oppressed. He wished at the same time, as He said, by the loss of the swine, in which so many of them bore a share, to draw the attention of these people to the danger that threatened their souls, and to arouse them from the sleep of sin that they might hearken to His teaching. The beverage He had allowed to be wasted as it was the principal cause of their vices and demoniacal possession.

On the following day a great crowd again gath­ered around Jesus, for His miracles had become known throughout the whole country, and many Jews who had been converted left Gergesa at once.

The Apostles, who had been healing in the vil­lages nearby, returned in time for Jesus' discourse, bringing with them those they had cured. There were some women among them carrying baskets of pro­visions, which they gave to the Apostles. Once when Jesus was closely pressed by the crowd, a woman from Magdala approached Him. She was afflicted with an issue of blood. Though long unable to walk, she had gathered up strength to slip alone through the crowd and to kiss His garment, whereupon she was healed. Jesus went on with His discourse, but after a little while He said: "I have healed someone. Who is it?" At these words, the woman drew near,

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 giving thanks. She had heard of Enue's cure, and had imitated her example. That evening Jesus, the disciples, and the two Jewish youths lately deliv­ered from demoniacal possession, left Gergesa, jour­neyed around Magdala, and climbed the mountain north of Hippos. This last named place was not sit­uated on the lake, but on a mountain some distance inland. Jesus and His followers descended on the opposite side and put up at a shepherd's house.

Here Jesus reminded the disciples that the birth­day of Herod would soon be celebrated, and told them that He intended going to Jerusalem. They tried to dissuade Him from doing so, saying that the Pasch was now not far off, and then they should be obliged to go. But Jesus replied in such a way as to give them to understand that He did not intend to show Himself openly at the feast. The two Gerge­sean disciples again begged to be allowed to accom­pany Him. Jesus replied that He had another mission in reserve for them, namely, to go around among the ten cities between Cedar and Paneas, and announce to the Jews of those places all that they had seen and heard. He gave them His benediction and made them the same promises as to the other two. If they fulfilled their commission well, the spirit of prophecy should be given to them, they should always know His whereabouts, and should be able to heal the sick in His name. As with the others, so too with them, a certain time had to elapse before these promises would be realized. The two others had first to announce Him in the ten Gergesean villages, and afterward to the heathens of the Decapolis. The youths bade farewell to Jesus, who directed the disci­ples to go to Bethsaida and, in spite of their entreaties, He Himself remained behind. He retired into a wilderness near the shore to pray. I saw Him walking about among the steep, rocky hills, some of which looked black and like human figures amid the darkness of night.

"Lord, Save Me!"

89

It was already quite dark when I saw Jesus walk­ing straight over the waves. It was almost opposite Tiberias, a little eastward of the middle of the lake. He appeared as if intending to pass within a little distance of the disciples' barque. The high wind was contrary, and the disciples weary of rowing. When they saw the figure on the waves, they were affrighted, for they knew not whether it was Jesus or His spirit, and they cried aloud from fear. But Jesus called out: "Fear not! It is I!" Then Peter cried: "Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come to Thee upon the waters." And Jesus said: "Come!"

Peter, in his ardor, leaped on the little ladder and out of the boat. He hurried along for a short dis­tance on the troubled waters toward Jesus, as if on level ground. It seemed to me that he hovered over the surface, for the inequality of the waves appeared to be no obstacle to his progress. But when he began to wonder, and to think more of the sea, its winds and its waves, than of the words of Jesus, he grew frightened and commenced to sink. Crying out, "Lord, save me!" he sank up to the breast and stretched out his hand. Instantly Jesus was at his side. He seized his hand and said: "0 thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?" Then they entered the barque, and Jesus reproached Peter and the others for their fear. The wind lulled immediately and they steered toward Bethsaida. A ladder was always in readiness to be thrown over the side of the boat for the con­venience of those about to enter.

15. Jesus Cures in Bethsaida and Again Returns to Capharnaum

Two blind men came to meet Jesus on His arrival in Bethsaida, crying out to Him for help and, as if to disprove the old saying, they were leading each other. Jesus restored their sight, cured also the lame and gave speech to the dumb. Wherever He appeared,

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 crowds pressed around Him bringing to Him their sick. Many touched Him, and were cured. The peo­ple were everywhere expecting Him, because they knew that He was coming again for the Sabbath. The story of the two possessed and of the swine was already well-known here, and had excited great com­ment and astonishment. Some of the disciples bap­tized the cured at Peter's house. But as Jesus continued His labors and took no time either to eat or to rest, the disciples sought Him out and tried to induce Him to take some repose and refreshment.

When He went back to Capharnaum, a man dumb, blind, and possessed by the demon came to meet Him, and Jesus cured him instantaneously. This mir­acle created intense astonishment, for even when approaching Jesus, the man had recovered his speech and cried out: "Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus touched his eyes, and he saw. He was possessed of many devils, having been wholly per­verted by the heathens on the other side of the lake. The sorcerers and soothsayers of the land of Gergesa had seized upon him. They dragged him around with them by a cord and exhibited him in other places, where they showed off his strength in all kinds of skillful feats. They showed how he, though blind and dumb, still could accomplish everything, could know and understand all, could go everywhere, could bring everything and know everything by virtue of cer­tain incantations, for all this the demon performed in him. These pagan sorcerers from Gergesa, who were ever wandering through the Decapolis and other cities, used the devil by means of that poor creature to help them earn their bread. If they journeyed over the sea, their miserable victim was not allowed to go on board a ship, but at the command of his masters, he was obliged to swim like a dog at its side. No one any longer troubled himself about him, for he was looked upon as forever lost. Most of the time he had no place of shelter. He lay in tombs and

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
1774-1824
Vol 3

This document is: ACE_3_0081

[click an item below to go to other documents]

Previous document: ACE_3_0071 List of documents Next document: ACE_3_0091
Table of Contents for this Volume
Cover page with links to All Volumes (1 to 4)