Today in the liturgy, we are introduced to the first book of the bible – the Book of Genesis. The sacred author of the book is trying to understand all of the evil and suffering in the world. In his meditations and reflections, he is inspired by God to write the story of the fall of mankind.

God’s creation was good, and He ultimately created everything with the happiness of mankind in mind, yet He desired that mankind would accept Him freely. Because mankind had free will, God could not force himself upon us, so He gave us a choice in the persons of our first parents, Adam and Eve. From all of the trees in the garden, they could eat except “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. God did not want mankind to know evil by participating in it!

He wanted mankind to obey Him and accept His law, yet we failed. The sacred author of Genesis takes us to a scene in the garden where Adam and Eve are having a conversation with the devil, the evil one.

The author was able to perceive the cunning of the devil and presented the temptation scene by showing us how the devil tricked them. Immediately after the fall, God discovers what has happened and He curses the serpent.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head while you strike at his heal.” This statement is called the “protoevangelium”, “The first good news”. A Messiah will come who will reverse what has happened through original sin. It is the first hope of redemption; from the tragedy of original sin, hope was offered by God! The Responsorial Psalm echoes this hope, “With the lord, there is mercy.”

Our second reading today is an affirmation of hope offered by St. Paul. He speaks of the struggles with evil that we all will have to endure if we want to be followers of Christ. He assures us that the power of Christ will lead us against attacks from the evil one: “Don’t lose heart. Keep up the fight.” The Gospel is the fulfillment of the first reading. Jesus is casting out a devil – He was God – he is God and has power over satan and all the forces of evil. Yet his power and authority are not recognized by the religious authorities or even by his relatives.

As Mark’s Gospel moves from this scene, he recounts the call of the apostles and the granting of authority for them to cast out demons. In the Gospel, the kingdom of evil is being displaced by the Kingdom of God.

Today, there is still a struggle between good and evil. The campaign against evil is ongoing and is not an easy one. Like the scribes in today’s Gospel, we are tempted by the world to shut Jesus and his Church out of our lives. Like Jesus’ relatives in today’s Gospel, we are tempted to minimize the teachings of Jesus and his Church. In our culture, we are easily tempted, our heads are easily turned, and our attention is easily diverted. The serpent likes to spread confusion.

Jesus was aware of our temptations so in the Lord’s Prayer, He included a petition to help us steer clear of temptation. We need direction: and we get that direction by living a life of union with the church – by following the will of god in our lives. We need to be careful of those with whom we place our trust, those whom we choose to follow. Sin comes into the world by not listening to god, but by listening to someone else.

Sin creates conflict, and it will never end until we choose to follow the lord jesus. In short, we are called upon by the church today to: stand up and defend our faith to the best of our ability. Be aware of our sinfulness and do something about it. Be mature enough to understand the weakness of our human nature and the power of the devil.

The power of the devil is real. His efforts to convince us that he is non-existent can be seen in the breakdown of families, the breakdown of society, and the breakdown of the church’s authority over the moral values of our nation.

We need the Church and we need our Faith to help us in our ongoing battle against evil; alone we can do nothing. Through, with, and in Jesus and His Church, we can defend ourselves against the temptations, the attacks, and the seductions of the evil one who is the cleverest and the most cunning of all.