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Bishop's Message/Blog

Fighting off Satan and his antics

My dear brothers, my dear sisters, during the Holy Week, we hear from the passage of scripture from John 13:31-33, and 36-38 how the plot to kill Jesus thickened, leading to Judas' betrayal and Peter's denial of Him. Their betrayal and denial should make us reflect on our need to fight off our weaknesses and the antics of Satan. In the passage, Jesus was at the Last Supper with His Apostles, and as the ritual of the Passover meal directed, He gave bread to all His Apostles, including Judas. However, scripture said that as soon as Judas received the bread, Satan entered into him. How could Jesus the terror of Satan give a piece of bread to a person and the person gets possessed by the devil? It must have had something to do with the person certainly, not the one who gave the bread.

We should ask, 'Why was he possessed and others remained normal? Was it possible for Judas to have resisted the devil from entering into him such as to push him to betray Jesus? The answer has to be a yes. There was something that he did not do. 1 Peter 8:5 says, "Be calm. be vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat. Stand up to him strong in faith." It is quite obvious that Judas was not vigilant. He let down his guard and allowed himself to be misled by the devil. He did not discipline himself as to stay alert, watching out for the antics of the devil. And so, it was possible for the devil to take full advantage.

The devil can use only those who did not pay attention to his antics, those who let down their guard and make themselves vulnerable to him. It is the life work of the evil one to lead people into error and evil activities. But it is for us to be vigilant and be alive to his antics and not make ourselves available for him to use. The greed and perhaps the envy of Judas made him the weakest link among the twelve Apostles, a ready instrument in the hands of the evil one. My dear friends, Judas is not alone, because like him, many of us also betray Jesus daily. Jesus draws us to Himself as His friends, He comes to us and dines with us at the Eucharistic table, but because of our weaknesses, we still betray Him from time to time.

We hear from the scriptures that Judas' criticism of Mary for wasting money on the ointment which could have been sold to assist the poor, was driven by his own love of money and his habit of stealing the money put in his care. Satan capitalised on his love of money and dishonesty, and greed to get him to betray Jesus. He was not vigilant enough to know that the devil would exploit his weakness, and so, he fell. My dear friends, we must be aware of our weaknesses, and accept that we have them, in order that we can see when the devil wants to exploit them to lead us to evil decisions and actions. All of us human persons have our weaknesses. For Judas, it was money. For Peter, it was his fear of what the Romans will do to him that made him to deny Jesus three times.

For some people; money, food, cars, houses, fame, power, alcohol, women, etc are their weaknesses. However, whatever weaknesses we may have, we must be alert to when Satan wants to use them to make us betray Jesus in our professional careers, in our business relationships, in our marital relationships, in our priestly duties or in other areas of life. If our love of God is stronger than our weaknesses, and we are alert to the antics of the devil, then, he cannot use us to betray Jesus. As Catholics in particular, who have the privilege of receiving the Eucharist, when Jesus comes, He strengthens us to overcome our weaknesses and fight off Satan who is ever lurking around to devour. May we always be nourished by Jesus in the Eucharist so that we have the strength to fight off Satan, his antics, and our weaknesses. May the Almighty bless you, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.



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