Question: In the sermon the other day, the priest said Satan hates us. It occurred to me to ask, “Why does Satan hate me; what did I ever do to him?”
— John Smoot, Bayonne, N.J.
Answer: To be sure, there are very deep mysteries involved in the motives for Satan’s hatred. We struggle to understand our own human psyches, let alone the psyche of a fallen angel.
However, an important clue to Satan’s hatred is contained in the third temptation he makes to Jesus in the desert. Showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, he says, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me” (Mt 4:9).
Here we see the curtain pulled back, and we glimpse for a moment the kind of inner torment that dominates Satan. He cannot bear that he is a creature and that there is another — God — who is to be adored.
Thus, in his colossal pride, he hates, first of all, God. And by extension, he hates everyone and everything that manifests the glory of God. Even more, he hates those who seek to adore God, rather than him. In his venomous pride, he seeks to destroy the Church, which declares the glory of God and reminds us that God alone is to be adored. Surely he hates and seeks to destroy those who even try to adore God.
As the text from the temptation in the desert suggests, Satan is tormented by pride, and his torment is filled with deep hatred for all who worship God and all who draw others to the worship of the one, true God.
Too much cross?
Question: A Protestant coworker says we Catholics focus too much on the Crucifixion and not enough on the Resurrection; that we focus too much on our sins and not enough on the new life Jesus gave us in the Resurrection. How do I answer him?
— Name withheld, Tampa, Fla.
Answer: Perhaps a first and philosophical point is that all of us should avoid setting up false dichotomies. The cross and the Resurrection are not an either/or proposition, but a both/and reality.
Theologically, some also simplify salvation, which, while one reality, actually has two essential components: the forgiveness (washing away) of our sins and the new life of the Resurrection. In other words, Jesus did not only forgive our sins but also offers us a new life. And these two aspects make up the salvation which Jesus wins for us.
St. Thomas Aquinas says, “The death of Christ ... is the cause of the extinction of our sins; but his resurrection, by which he returns to the life of glory, is the cause of our justification, by which we return to the newness of justice.”
Therefore, the death of Jesus on the cross is the starting point of our salvation and justification since it removes sin. In the Resurrection we have the manifestation of the new life, which Jesus offers us and which we are summoned to experience more deeply with each passing day.
Therefore, both the cross and the Resurrection are essential in our salvation and justification: We die to sin, but we rise to new life.
I am going to guess that the co-worker is an evangelical Protestant. Traditional Protestantism placed a significant emphasis on the cross, as any look at a older Protestant hymnal will reveal.
Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., blog at blog.adw.org. Send questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters must be signed, but anonymity may be requested.