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Demonizing the adversary: What Jesus thinks


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Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 01/23/23

Jesus teaches those who slander him that evil has better strategies than theirs.

Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.

One of the many things that Jesus’ enemies do when they try to bring Him down is something we can find in own lives and relationships: demonizing the adversary.

“The scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’”

Turning the others into “devils” implies representing them in an entirely distorted way – so that they lose face, esteem, and credibility in front of others. This is not only wrong when the scribes use it against Jesus. It is always wrong. 

We should ask ourselves if we also demonize those we consider our enemies. The Gospel, in fact, does not shy away from depicting demons making remarkable professions of faith when they encounter Jesus. Those words, even if spoken by the devil, remain true because Jesus is indeed the “Son of God” – just as they claim. We must always be able to see the good even in those who hate us – and in those we hate.  

Jesus teaches those who slander him that evil has better strategies than theirs:

“How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”

Slander might make sense at first sight, but once you get to its true root, it is easily unmasked. This is also something that we should apply in our own lives: Never limit ourselves to hearsay. We should use our own heads and have the courage to get to the bottom of things. Otherwise, we will always be at the mercy of the masses. Jesus was put to death because the mass cried “Crucify him!” We are not immune from this risk. 


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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