10 December, Friday — The devil always collects what is due to him

Friday of the 2nd Week of Advent

Is 48:17-19
Mt 11:16-19

Yet wisdom has been proved right by her actions.

At the cusp of the Second World War in late 1930s, the world was in a very dark place. In Germany, Fascism and the cult of personality worship of one individual called Hitler, was gaining momentum and rearing its very ugly head. In its wake, were the atrocities committed out of racism, anti-Semitism and political ambition. The world was simply just not big enough for those not born of Aryan descent. It was a time when hatred reigned. It all seemed so Faustian. The devil was having his cake and eating it. The likes of Hitler, and many others who followed his lead, were making all sorts of deals with the devil. And soon after, all hell broke loose – literally. WWII began.

It was during this era, that a German pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, tried to preach against all the evil, dehumanization and atrocity happening around around him. About how his country of poets, philosophers and thinkers had turned into a collective of crooks, cowards and criminals. The most fascinating conclusion he came to was that Germany, a supposedly ‘Christian’ country, did not descend into this abyss because of the malice of its people, but because of its stupidity. Yes, stupidity. And unlike malice, which can be prevented by righteous force, there is little or no defense against stupidity. And this was exactly what such leaders wanted. Facts, figures and reason have no impact because the stupid simply choose not to believe them or, if they are irrefutable, they are simply deemed inconsequential. And whilst you can lock up someone for a malicious act, you can’t lock up someone for being stupid.

However, the scariest part about all this is that such stupidity is not a defect of intellect, but of morality. It is not a psychological problem but a sociological one. People allow themselves to become stupid. The root cause of this is during times in a society when an upsurge of power takes place – either religious and/or political power. It is when the power of the one (religious/political entity) needs the stupidity of the others to come to fruition. And this is achieved though slogans and catchwords such as, “God is dead”, “Stop the steal”, “Four legs good, two legs bad”, “By faith alone”, “Might makes right”, “The big lie” …. etc. In this state, evil is no longer perceived as evil, as the ‘brainwashed’ person or group is no longer capable of seeing evil for what it is. Sounds frighteningly familiar, doesn’t it?

Let us take a moment to see the signs of the times around us. The blatant disregard for science and truth for selfish reasons (be it with the situation in certain countries/societies/’Christian’ communities, in false religion, politics or in dealing with COVID-19.) The hypocrisy, insidiousness and total denial of facts and the wider good of others in society, is not only sickening but more importantly, it leads to denial of the truth and that others around us matter. And that is where things start getting really interesting…and dangerous. The breakdown of values, social norms, morality, decency, law and order. We treat others with indifference, insensitivity and inhumanity because we do not consider them as ‘our own’. And here’s the thing — those who lack unity lack wisdom. How so? Because they can’t see beyond what is obvious – they can only see the gift but not the giver, the created thing but not the creator, they grab for power but can’t see that they are really just clutching at straws, the need but not the provider of that need. They want glory in this world, but fail to see that they are leaving ruins for their own children to inherit. They can only see themselves as masters of their own universe and not God — to whom all things truly belong — and draw life from.

Bonhoeffer once said, “The ultimate test of a moral society, is the kind of world that it leaves to its children”. For those ‘leaders’ to lead others astray and who choose to make deals with the devil for the sake of selfish and self-serving ends, perhaps its good for you to remember these two things: (1) Satan is the prince of THIS world; and (2) he ALWAYS collects what is due to him.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father, help us. Defend us from sin and death, from the power of Satan and the seductions of the world, from all the evils that afflict humanity, from devasting folly, merciless interests, deception, misinformation and the manipulation of consciences. And in the battle against sin and evil. (Adapted from the Litany of Supplications, Urbi at Orbi by Pope Francis, 2020)  

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for all the times you have saved us from our own folly and stupidity. For the light of the Holy Spirit which points us to the way of truth and life. And for saving us from the devil and from ourselves.

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