One of my favorite books in high school was Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” There was one detail of the story in particular that intrigued me. Dracula, even though he was spectacularly powerful, couldn’t enter someone’s house unless he was invited in. I was reminded of that detail recently when I read Bishop Barron’s reflection on the abuse and coverup surrounding Archbishop McCarrick. Bishop Barron spoke about how sexual abuse within the Church is truly demonic activity before saying:
“Now I can hear people saying, ‘So Bishop Barron is blaming it all on the devil.’ Not at all. The devil works through temptation, suggestion, and insinuation—and he accomplishes nothing without our cooperation.”
The devil accomplishes nothing without our cooperation. A fallen angel of light, a pure spirit that’s unbound by time and space, needs our consent, our freedom, to accomplish his work. In “Theology for Beginners,” the apologist Frank Sheed spoke of Satan and original sin this way:
“The disease admitted into humanity by the choice of self against God was given every chance to run its course, work out its logic. God’s providence did not desert man; those who implored him were not left unaided; but it was Satan’s carnival all the same. He had gained no rights by his success over Adam, but he had gained immense power; he was the prince that this world obeyed.”
It was Adam’s free choice to reject God that gave Satan power over this world, and it’s our free choices to reject God that allow Satan to continue his rule. But God left our original parents with hope. God said that one day a descendant of Eve would crush the head of the serpent. And that son of Eve is who we see at work in the Gospel reading today.
If you look at the ministry of Jesus in all the Gospels, you will see a conqueror, a king returning to reclaim territory from his enemy.