By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio – articles – email ) | Feb 27, 2023
Art depicts the Devil as a slimy-scorched-bright-red angry-looking creature with horns. The 1995 movie “The Usual Suspects” borrows this memorable line: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Maybe. But the Devil is a narcissist, a Red Supremacist. He wants to displace God with himself, and he also wants us to do the same.
The angels are pure spirits created with free will. Led by Lucifer, some angels rebelled and rejected God’s supremacy. St. Michael the Archangel—of lesser dignity—led his junior varsity of angels to cast the rebellious varsity angels into hell. Michael’s name is a taunt: “Who is like God?” Indeed.
Burning with envy, the Devil continues his dirty work with Adam and Eve. God created man—male and female—to live in Paradise according to man’s nature as embodied spirits. The tree of life sustains their bliss in Paradise. God presents the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The tree is His first covenant, honoring man’s freedom.
In the perfect glory of Paradise, Adam and Eve’s obsession with knowing evil displaced their obedience and worship of God. The Devil won another round, at least for a time. Violating the first covenant brings self-destructive knowledge of evil and slavery to sin: shame, blame, suffering, and death.
In the fullness of time, God sends His angel to Mary—“full of grace”—the Immaculate Conception. Mary is the New Eve. Unlike Eve, Mary says “Yes” (her Fiat) to God through Gabriel. Mary and her sinless cooperation with the Holy Spirit give birth to the Redeemer, Jesus. God and man are reconciled in Jesus, true God, and true Man. Jesus is the New Adam. Unlike Adam, Jesus is obedient unto death. Jesus knows temptation but never sinned.
The Devil’s threefold temptation of Jesus is familiar. The Devil is a Red Supremacist. He wants Jesus to play the magician, just as the Devil manipulates God’s good creation. Turn those stones into bread, he demands of Jesus. The Devil hates nature, God’s handiwork.
But the miracles of Jesus do not violate nature. His wonders heal, elevate and transform nature. He heals the sick and restores life to those who have died. At the command of Jesus, the bread that feeds us becomes the Bread of Life that feeds our souls. His miracles perfect nature in mysterious ways that are beyond the reach of our reason and science.
The Devil directs Jesus to cast Himself from the precipice. The temptation is subtle. The Devil wants Jesus to acknowledge that He isn’t the Savior; the angels are saviors. The Devil aims to reclaim the Red Supremacy of Lucifer and the fallen angels. It’s a fool’s errand.
The Devil goes for broke. He presumes to place Jesus in charge of the world if Jesus only bends His knee and worships the Devil. Red Supremacism and narcissism know no bounds.
The Devil tempts us in similar ways. The Devil has become a religious fixation in some circles, feeding his narcissism. But it’s more likely he prefers that we replace God in our peculiar ways. Let’s identify a few of them.
Sex, money, and power.
Read the news, and watch a couple of movies.
Health and life.
The Covid lockdown revealed how widespread—worldwide—is the willingness to cancel the worship of God to save our physical health. By going beyond reasonable preventive measures, we obsessed about our physical well-being. We replaced the Lord of life with an obsession over our lives. We canceled Masses and the celebration of the Sacraments all over the world.
We hurt children, the elderly, and our livelihood—neglecting basic human relations. We forgot the fundamental biblical truth: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” (Ps. 90:10)
We replaced our faith in the Tree of Life with our fearful worship of a biological warfare agent. Fear of Covid displaced our worship of the one God. The Devil never even bothered to make an appearance!
Think of our response to the Covid pandemic when tempted to trash-talk Adam and Eve.
Our sorrows and disappointments.
The world is going to hell in a handbasket. Something new? The world has always been going to hell in a handbasket. That’s why we need a Savior. Of course, we must work hard to confront evil as members of His Mystical Body. But how easy it is to displace God’s supremacy in our lives by obsessing over our sorrows and troubles.
Our indispensable job.
Indispensable executives and employees—and priests—fill our graveyards. We must not ruin our love of God and family by obsessing over our jobs.
The Missionaries of Charity are not as visible after the death of Mother Teresa. But they continue to serve the poorest of the poor with much sacrifice. In recent years, two of the Missionaries of Charity died in the bombardment of the cities in Yemen. A contingent of the sisters traveled to Kabul to care for abandoned children. The cultural pattern there was to place unwanted children on the streets to die. (We in the West are a bit more sophisticated in disposing of our unwanted babies.) The sisters’ services were essential from the perspective of the babies. But their commitment to services does not replace their worship of God. Regardless of their duties, they give life to their essential work by worshiping the Blessed Sacrament for an hour daily. Their worship displaces any temptation that they are indispensable to serving the poorest of the poor.
Jesus asks us for only one hour a week, sometimes less. Honor the first three Commandments, concluding with “Keep holy the Sabbath.”
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” The Red Supremacist exists alright, but his tempting obsessions take unexpected forms and require a firm rebuke.
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.
All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!
There are no comments yet for this item.
Services Marketplace – Listings, Bookings & Reviews