What separates us from Satan?

(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: https://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Mass-Blog-for-the-Fourth-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-2024.mp3)

Leave it to a demon to understand the purity of Jesus—and to fear it.

“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?,” the possessor of a human victim asks in Sunday’s gospel passage from Mark. “Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Mk 1:21-28)

This is an intimate knowledge—the kind only a friend would have. Or maybe a former friend—a friend whose love for God was both intimate and fragile. In Satan’s case, that friendship with God was lost forever through this angel’s own fall from grace. His love shattered on contact with the hard ground of this world. It splintered and created an army of fallen angels whose identity and fate are hinted at in Jude 1:6

The angels too, who did not keep to their own domain but deserted their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains, in gloom, for the judgment of the great day.

Isaiah mentions Satan (a.k.a., Lucifer, the Morning Star) in particular:

How you have fallen from the heavens, O Morning Star, son of the dawn! How you have been cut down to the earth, you who conquered nations! In your heart you said: “I will scale the heavens; above the stars of God.” (IS 14:12)

That spirit of evil also infiltrated the protective shell of friendship surrounding Jesus—in the form of his disciples. Of those, only John is described as the one Jesus loved—most memorably in Chapter 19 of John’s gospel, when, while hanging on the cross and referring to Mary his mother, Jesus says to John: “Behold, your mother.”

And from that hour the disciple took her into his home, John’s account concludes.

Then in Chapter 21, John depicts his friendship with Jesus through Peter’s eyes:

“Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, ‘Master, who is the one who will betray you?’”

We know that the betrayer was Judas, whose friendship with Jesus, and therefore God, was stolen by Satan. All the gospels tell us that, and all the gospels were written to preserve OUR friendship with God AND each other.

The opening of Luke’s gospelis addressed to Theophilus, a name we are all called to live up to (“Friend of God.”).  How we spend our lives getting to know and befriend God is both an education in friendship and our tuition for it. Recently, the movies offered an intriguing take on how that friendship with humanity is under attack by the fallen angel whose love for God was shattered. The premise of the film rings true: Satan wants to use us in revenge for his lost love.

“The Shift” is about a man who, like Job of the Old Testament, keeps undergoing trials by Satan (self-named, “The Benefactor,” in the film) to test his friendship with God. These Job-like tests are depicted in a sicence-fictiony way—via shifts through various versions of this man’s existence.

At the outset, Satan offers him stability from his life’s chaos—if he would only come over to the dark, selfish side of the friendship divide. But when this man starts praying for God’s help—right in front of “The Benefactor”—the fallen angel’s pain, anger and jealousy explode and he disappears from the man’s sight. That doesn’t prevent this man from entering a series of wormholes extending through various versions of his own existence.

The one common denominator this man seeks through all these shifting timeline tests is the loving relationship he screwed up after his own fall from grace with his wife. Their love seemed to end with the accidental death of their child. That event is linked through these dystopian godless realms to the fragments of God’s word that still remain in this guy’s head.

He writes them down as best he can throughout his adventure and spreads the gospels around as he goes. Satan has banished scripture from all of these alternate realities. This man has been away from the friendship of God’s word for a long time, too, and relies on his childhood memories of scripture to grasp and preserve them for others shifting through their own life’s godless wormholes. 

What ultimately saves him and us from sharing in the chaos of Satan’s existence is the spirit of truth, as Jesus tells us through the gospel of the disciple he loved:

“You know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.”

–Tom Andel


  1. It seems as depicted in Tom’s blog that Satan or one of his henchmen is our constant companion. This is similarly portrayed in CS Lewis novel “The Screw Tape Letters.” Thankfully, God has allocated to each of us a personal protector in our own guardian angel. What a gift, and so often taken for granted.

    Yet even with our own personal body and soul guard so to speak, the Lord won’t let him take charge over us. He still makes us decide how to use our own free will. This is where it gets complicated, because he also allows the tempter to whisper in subtle and deceptive ways. He’s very clever, and always on the prowl as pointed out by Saint Peter.
    So who has more influence over us each day. The good angel or the bad one?

    We get to decide!

    • You cite a great role model, Thomas. Our secular age has turned the choice between right and wrong into one governed by moral relativism. CS Lewis taught that was the path to nihilism. Our problems making the right choices start when we think a conscience is the stuff of childhood catechism. We adults should realize it’s the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and it can be our constant companion when prayer is our daily habit.

  2. “You know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.”
    Beautiful ending to a powerful reflection. Thank you Tom

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