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The Devil Doesn't Wear Tights
February 26, 2023, 1:00 AM

February 26, 2023

No one believes in the existence of the devil these days, do they? Do you? Perhaps we can thank Hollywood and Halloween’s marketing blitz for our casual if not incredulous approach to the devil’s existence. Pointy horns, pitch forks, red costumes, and box office ticket sales continue to shape our culture’s collective consciousness of the devil. Though red tights and long tails may be a frightening thought as you consider a costume for a Halloween party, they do nothing to communicate the true terror of an honest-to-God encounter with the devil’s power.

This Lent we are called to expunge the fantastical images of the devil from our minds and think seriously about the real presence of evil in our world. We know firsthand about the sin that caused, causes, and will cause suffering to us, our loved ones, our neighbors, our global communities, and creation itself. Sin is real; suffering is real; evil is real; indeed, the devil is real. This oppressive, tangible reality is as real as the air we breathe—felt but not always seen. Greed, envy, rage, hatred, war, discrimination, and apathy are just some of the ways the devil’s forces wreak havoc upon us. These forces have one goal and one goal only: to turn us away from the will of God.

Matthew’s gospel reorients us to the truth of the devil’s power, and calls us to name Satan’s presence in the world. In the wilderness Jesus encounters an evil as real as its opposite, resurrection. The great tempter seeks to undermine Jesus’ mission before he even begins; testimony that evil has much to fear of our Jesus! Nonetheless, Jesus will not be dissuaded. “Away with you, Satan!” proclaims the redeemer of the cosmos. Thus, the Lenten journey begins—a journey that takes us to the cross, where the devil is named and crushed underfoot.