Dear brothers and sisters,
In today’s secularized world, we don’t often talk about the devil, and when we do, it’s usually to make a joke. Jesus didn’t just make jokes about the devil. In fact, the Bible tells us that undoing the devil’s work was the primary reason Jesus came to earth in the first place: “This was the purpose of the appearing of the Son of God, to undo the work of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Today’s First Reading explains why the devil is so important for human history: it was “by the envy of the devil [that] death entered the world.” This happened in the Garden of Eden, with original sin. When our first parents let themselves be deceived by the devil, stopped trusting in God, and disobeyed God’s command, the original harmony that God had built into creation was shattered. Evil, death, and suffering flooded the world. Ever since then, human history, both of the human race, and of every individual, has been a battleground between those destructive forces of evil, sin and selfishness, and the redeeming power of God’s grace. This is the truth, revealed by Christ, and fairly obvious to anyone who takes an honest look at the world. Yet if it’s true and obvious, why does today’s secularized world shy away from talking about it? Part of the answer is simple: if we admit the reality of the devil and original sin, we are also admitting the fact that we, as fallen human beings, are in need of a Savior, someone stronger than evil and death who can come and redeem us. Admitting our need for a Savior takes humility, and humility scares us. We much prefer to see ourselves as self-sufficient, heroic, successful, and capable of taking care of ourselves, thank you very much. Unless we are humble, admitting that we are not God, that we need God, then God’s grace will not be able to touch and transform our lives, because God is too respectful of our freedom to force down the door of our hearts. That is what today’s Gospel encounters teach us.