June 24, 2017

Reflection for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

The devil

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is from Matthew's Gospel, chapter 10. Our Lord instructs the twelve apostles, "Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna." (Matthew 10:26-28)

The one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna is Satan the devil, king of demons, and of hell. He is the father of lies and a cruel deceiver of men. When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we ask that God, "... lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." The Catechism of the Catholic Church (§2851) states: “In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. The devil (dia-bolos) is the one who 'throws himself across' God's plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ.”

Likewise, in John’s Gospel, Jesus addresses the unfaithful with words of warning and unequivocal censure, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Indeed, Satan is the “father of lies”. He told the first lie to Eve, in the Garden of Eden as recorded in Genesis. Having sown seeds of doubt in Eve’s mind with his question, he then contradicts God’s Word, telling her, “You will not certainly die”. With this, Satan successfully tempts Eve and her husband Adam to reject God and commit the original sin. Prior to the Fall, the created world and everything in it functioned precisely as God intended. After the Fall, paradise was lost. Satan’s lie condemned humanity to lives of sin, drudgery and inexorable physical death.

The devil is an active force, a living, spiritual being. We must remain vigilant in hope for, "sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it." (Genesis 4:7) We can overcome the devil’s incessant attacks through God’s grace and heroic virtue. Ultimately, it is our decision to sin or to love that determines where we spend eternity. God respects our free will, even if we chose vice over virtue. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

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