Satan, a cunning liar, will confuse us with deception
“The serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said. “You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.: But the serpent said to the woman, “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and evil.”– (Genesis 3:1-5)
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence and he said to him “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this Jesus said to him “Get away, Satan!” It is written: The Lord, your God shall you worship, and him alone shall you serve.” Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him. (Mt 4:8-11)
There’s something about scripture that I find interesting and frustrating at the same time. While it can be very descriptive in talking about settings or actions, there’s very little personal description anywhere in the Old or New Testament. We don’t get to know what anyone looks like! Of course, we would all love to have a glimpse of the face of Jesus as he walked the earth.
But what I’m wondering in the readings today is what Satan looked like as he was offering Jesus the world. Think about it. I imagine he looked like a regular guy trying to do his buddy Jesus a favor. Or maybe he appeared to Jesus as the fallen angel. We can probably be sure it wasn’t a red guy with horns and a tail. That’s the thing about the Enemy, he works by trying to get us to trust him over God, not by trying to scare us with a Halloween costume.
Personally, I would never hang around a snake long enough to take its advice, but in the story of the Fall, Eve is tempted by just another creature of Eden. Not an unfamiliar or frightening beast. And like the later temptation of Jesus, he’s offering something really good. All you have to do is listen to him and disobey God.
If you believe in the light, you believe in the darkness. Just as we know that God is at work in the world and in our lives, we have to acknowledge that the Enemy is as well. That being the reality, it would be a lot easier to recognize him if we had a police sketch or a security camera video for reference. The pitchfork and tail would be a dead giveaway as well. That’s not how darkness works though. In fact, if I had to guess I ‘d say the Enemy is most effective not when he’s seen, but when he’s heard.
He doesn’t need to appear to us, he just needs to put that little whisper in our head, “Everyone else does,” “No one will know” or “Just this once.” And like with Eve, he lies. The cruelest lie he tries to get us to believe is that God doesn’t care about us, that’s he’s forgotten us. When those feelings start to creep in, give him the same answer Jesus did, “Get away Satan!” God loves us; that what the Enemy hates about us.
Editor’s note: Ellen Sargent is a long-time resident of the Marquette area and member of the Catholic Church. She is married to Mining Journal Managing Editor Bud Sargent.