When the devil left Jesus in the desert, after his third temptation, the gospel writer writes, “when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.” (Luke 4:12) There is implied here that the devil wasn’t finished with Jesus, and that he would come back to tempt him again. It was only after the resurrection that Jesus defeated the devil. The devil, however, has never given up tempting the followers of Jesus.
When the disciples go to Jesus to report that they could not expel a demon, he told them that it could only be expelled through prayer and fasting. Thus he gave his followers the power and the means to expel the devil.
Do we not see the hand of the devil in what is happening in our society, and in our church? Like Jesus, we the church, need to go into the desert, and there be tempted by the devil, as was Jesus. We, in our time and place, are called to renounce the devil, who is Father of Lies, and Prince of darkness, and all his works and all his empty promises.
Why does the devil seek to destroy the church of God? The answer is easy, the church proclaims God’s kingdom of mercy and love. Through the Eucharist and the sacraments, the church offers the world of man, redemption and the hope of eternal life. Every year, at the Easter Vigil, we become the devil’s enemy when we renew our baptismal promises, and promise to live our faith.
The devil’s tactic is to destroy the leaders of the church, through their sin full actions, that have caused so much pain, scandal and shame to the members of the church. By destroying the human leaders of the church, the devil’s plan is to scatter the sheep. However, no matter how many times the devil attacks the church, the church remains the body of Christ, and Christ is the head of the church, and the one who has conquered the devil’s pride, and thus it can only end badly for the devil.
In order to drive out the devil and the other evil spirits who prowl around the world seeking the ruin of souls, we must pray and fast. The leaders of the church are only human beings, and our bound to sin and make mistakes, as do all her members. Yet, despite our sinfulness, Jesus promised to remain with us in the Eucharist, and in the sacraments. He holds out to us the hope of eternal life, something the devil cannot ever have.
There is a spiritual warfare being waged by the powers of darkness against the children of the light. We are call to walk in the light of Christ. We are called, like Jesus, to go into the desert and once again say to the devil; “one does not live on bread alone, you shall worship the Lord your God, him shall you serve,” and ”you shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” (Luke 4:4-8)
May the God of all consolation fill us with his peace, and may he bring to completion the good work he has begun in us, and keep us safe until the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ dawns in glory. On that day, he will return to judge the world and establish his an everlasting of kingdom of peace, justice, love, mercy and holiness. Let us pray always and never lose hope.