“Deliver Us From Evil!”
(Meditation on Biblical Readings of the I Sunday of Lent, Year A)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Message of God’s Word for this Sunday can be summarized in the following four points: one, the Devil does exist in this world; two, the Devil has been working intensely from the beginning of the world; three, the Devil has face and name; and four, it is through prayer and fasting that we can drive out the Devil.
The Devil as reported by the Book of Genesis from which the First Reading is taken appeared in the form of a snake to tempt Adam and Eve. He incited evil ambition, hatred and killing among people, even among family members, as in the story of the murder of Abel by his brother Cain. Christ Himself confronted during His mission on earth the forces of evil, as told in details by Saint Matthew in the Gospel Reading.
The Church in turn assuming the Lord’s mission of healing and deliverance of humanity from the power of sin and death continues the fight against Satan and his unclean spirits. The biggest lie which the Devil can ever tell us is that he does not exist, or he has stopped doing harm to humanity. Saint Peter seriously warns us that the Devil, our opponent “is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The Devil is too hardworking that he never takes a day off, but is always actively at works 24/7.
The Book of Revelation discloses the scary reality that the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan, once chained up for a thousand years and thrown into the abyss, “is to be released for a short time.” It is not until the Second Coming in glory of Christ our Lord that the Devil will be destroyed for good and all, as written by Saint Paul in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians: “And then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will killed with the breath of His mouth and render powerless by the manifestation of His coming.”
Who is the Devil and his evil companions? The Book of Revelation tells us that they once were angels in heaven who involved themselves in an uprising against God the Almighty and who were defeated by Michael the Archangel and his good angels. As a result all the rebellious angels were condemned into Hell. From that moment on, they keep taking vengeance on God’s children.
Pope Saint John Paul the Great teaches us that the Devil has his face and name. He gets his face and name from the faces and names of those who did evil things. We think of those who kill unborn babies, of those who take billions of dollars from children and women slavery, from drug trafficking, arms sales and the like. Those people, yesterday, today and tomorrow, being efficient tools in the hands of the Devil, have lent, and will lend him, their faces and names.
Facing this frightening reality we may ask ourselves whether or not we can fight against the forces of evil. No, we are powerless when confronting the enemy who is much smarter, much stronger than we are, and much harmful than expected. But we are by no means hopeless in the fight against them because they are just created beings like us who should be put under the absolute ruling authority of God the Almighty. Besides, Christ our Lord tells us not to be afraid of them for He has conquered the world. Only by siding with Christ can we win the war against the forces of evil.
Let us remember Christ’s recommendation with regard to engaging the Devil: “This kind can only come out through prayer and fasting.”
Together with the universal Church, let us start this Season of Lent with joyful fasting, persistent prayer and voluntary works of charity.
Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.