When Jesus and His three disciples descended from the Mountain after His Transfiguration, he saw the rest of His disciples surrounded by a large crowd. Then a heartbroken father fell at Jesus’ feet and said to Him: “Lord have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water” (verse 15).
The common belief of that time (which the father likely shared) was that certain phases of the moon can trigger the epileptic symptoms that some people suffered from. Even in our days, there are those who still believe such things. This thinking however, is wrong. Many scientific and medical research studies have been conducted on thousands of people suffering from epilepsy, and it was confirmed that there was no connection to the moon. This conclusion was supported early on, by Hippocrates (The “Father of Medicine”) in the 5th Century BC, and even later impressively by Saint John Chrysostom in the 4th Century AD. It is sad that there are still people today (not only in underdeveloped parts of the world but even in modern societies) that actually resort to “enchanters”, sorcerers, shamans and others to heal these epileptic symptoms.
We Orthodox Christians need to know that there are two main causes of these agonizing phenomena. The most common cause is some physical damage to the human body, in the brain or somewhere else, which science treats with whatever means are available. The other cause is the act of an evil spirit, just as our Lord Himself has revealed to us. When they brought the tortured child in front of our Lord, He recognized that such a spirit was torturing him. Immediately “Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour” (verse 18).
We know from the Holy Scriptures that before our Lord Jesus Christ came to earth as man, the devil ruled the world. Many were demoniac-demon possessed. Evil demons entered into them and forced them to do as they commanded. Our Holy Gospels are filled with instances of people tortured by demons. And that exactly is one of the reasons why The Son of God became man. The Holy Apostle and Evangelist John writes in his 1st Letter: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (3:8). In the Holy Gospels it is frequently stated: “they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And he cast out the spirits with a word” (Matthew 8:16). This work He later assigned to His disciples: “These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them saying:…cleanse the lepers,….cast out demons” (Matthew 10:5 & 8). Since then, Christ, through the Church, of which He is the “Head” continues this redemptive work and offers the ability to every baptized believer, not only to avoid being dominated by Satan, but also to defeat him. The Apostle Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans: “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). Likewise, the Evangelist John writes in his First Letter: “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:14).
My brothers and sisters, with all these assurances in our Holy Scriptures, we as Orthodox Christians, who take part in the life of the Church, have nothing to be afraid of from the wicked one and the people who act as his instruments. Neither do we need to concern ourselves with him, who is trying to distract our attention away from Jesus Christ so that we could occupy ourselves with him. Keep away from superstitions. No spell, no evil eye, nor any other tricks of the wicked one can touch us. Keep your gaze always towards our Lord Jesus Christ. Our main concern should be how we can please God with our life. And then we can be certain that God through our Guardian Angel- like we say in the relevant prayer- will protect us “from any influence of the object-devil” and our petition shall be fulfilled in the Sunday Prayer: “Our Father who art in heaven….deliver us from all evil” (Matthew 6:13). Amen.