Today, More than a myth, Pope Francis begins a discussion on a certain supernatural figure.
160. We will not admit the existence of the devil if we insist on regarding life by empirical standards alone, without a supernatural understanding. It is precisely the conviction that this malign power is present in our midst that enables us to understand how evil can at times have so much destructive force.
How often do we ask the question: “How could that happen?” We stand from an end perspective and look back on ruin far worse than imagined. The Holy Father dismisses the notion of the dark one as an ancient myth. I think he is correct.
True enough, the biblical authors had limited conceptual resources for expressing certain realities, and in Jesus’ time epilepsy, for example, could easily be confused with demonic possession. Yet this should not lead us to an oversimplification that would conclude that all the cases related in the Gospel had to do with psychological disorders and hence that the devil does not exist or is not at work. He is present in the very first pages of the Scriptures, which end with God’s victory over the devil. [Cf. Homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta, 11 October 2013]
A translation note on our daily prayer:
Indeed, in leaving us the Our Father, Jesus wanted us to conclude by asking the Father to “deliver us from evil”. That final word does not refer to evil in the abstract; a more exact translation would be “the evil one”. It indicates a personal being who assails us. Jesus taught us to ask daily for deliverance from him, lest his power prevail over us.
More to come in the days ahead. You can check the full document Gaudete et Exsultate on the Vatican website.