This post was Teresa’s idea and she handwrote the first draft. It was sparked by today’s post at Domini Canes by Brother James, What is Truth? Kevin added some personal touches and transcribed the resulting fusion in order to post the article on this blog.
Since the enemies of our Lord played were instrumental in bringing about his death, and since His death was for our salvation, it follows that the enemies of our Lord played a role in the way God brought about the salvation of the world. Can our enemies have a corresponding positive impact on our personal salvation? Does God will the suffering they cause for our ultimate benefit, that we may grow spiritually closer to Him?
From the time that the old Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden until the New Adam submitted to His Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane, Satan had authority over the world. When he offered the kingdoms of this world to Jesus immediately if He would worship him during the temptation in the desert that was not bluster. It was a real temptation, because he really did have that to offer Him. Satan wanted to prevent God from taking what Adam gave to Satan and giving it to Jesus. If our Lord had not resisted that temptation, Satan would still be in charge of the world with full authority. When Jesus refused, Satan marked Him for death. If Jesus would not be turned, He would have to be killed in order to prevent God from using Him to save us from the clutches of the Devil.
During the Last Supper account in John’s Gospel, the Apostle expresses an important point very briefly and without fanfare so that you almost miss it: when Jesus handed the dipped bread to Judas, “Satan entered him.” (John 13:27 – granted, Satan is mentioned in verse 2 of the passage as having already put it into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus, but that is almost a parenthetical remark, like this one). From that point, Satan was using Judas to bring about the death of Jesus. We can be reasonably certain that this was not because Satan was intentionally cooperating with God for the salvation of the world. Satan was trying to prevent that salvation, not cause it. It was God who turned what Satan did against him and made it the very means of our salvation.
If God used the evil deeds of the enemy of all of mankind to bring about the general salvation of humanity, might He not use those of our personal enemies to effect our personal salvation?
P.S. - Much of the substance of the above came from Teresa, with enhancements of my own here and there, building on her ideas. This postscript is fully my contribution. From the beginning God foretold that Satan’s effort to destroy the Savior of humanity would be the very means by which the Savior would defeat the Devil forever. In Genesis 3:15 we find the protevangelium where Gods warns of the perpetual enmity between the Woman and the Serpent, and between her Seed and his. The end of that conflict would be the defeat of the Serpent by the Seed of the Woman when the latter would use a blow inflicted by the former to bring about the former’s destruction. “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
Can you see the image? The man who is the seed of the woman is walking and apparently his foot is bare. His bare foot, an attractive target for the serpent, is in the air midstep about to come down. Suddenly, from his hiding place in grass, the serpent rears up almost too fast to be seen and strikes. His teeth sink into the bottom of the foot at the heel (right where the nails connected our Lord’s foot to the cross). The head is now stuck, fastened by fangs to the foot. It is too late for the serpent to remove his head from danger, the stride is too fast. The foot, though wounded, continues down until it reaches the ground with the serpent’s head now in the position of the conquered foe, under the heel of the victor who is wounded but not defeated. Then the strength of the heel is brought to bear on the serpent’s head until it is crushed, and thus the serpent’s attack brings about his own ultimate destruction.