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Christ’s Victory Conquers Evil

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 20 August 1986 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish  

"1. Our catecheses on God, the Creator of the things "that are unseen," have brought fresh light and strength to our faith concerning the truth about the evil one, or Satan. He is certainly not willed by God, who is supreme love and holiness, and whose wise and strong Providence knows how to guide our existence to victory over the prince of darkness. The Church's faith teaches us that the power of Satan is not infinite. He is only a creature - powerful, in that he is pure spirit, but nevertheless always a creature, with the limits proper to creatures, subordinated to the will and dominion of God. If Satan is at work in the world because of his hatred of God and of his kingdom, this is permitted by divine Providence. God directs the history of humanity and of the world with power and goodness (fortiter et suaviter). It is certainly true that Satan's action causes much damage, to individuals and to society, both of a spiritual kind and also indirectly of a material kind. But he is not able ultimately to neutralize the definitive end toward which man and all creation tend - the Good. He cannot block the construction of the kingdom of God, in which at the end there will be full realization of the righteousness and the love of the Father for the creatures who are eternally "predestined" in Jesus Christ, his Son and Word. Indeed, we can say with St. Paul that the work of the evil one cooperates for the good (cf. Rom 8:28) and that it helps to build up the glory of the "chosen" ones (cf. 2 Tim 2:10).

2. Thus, the whole history of humanity can be considered as serving total salvation which means the victory of Christ over the "prince of this world" (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).

"You shall bow down only before the Lord your God, you shall adore him alone" (Lk 4:8), Christ says eternally to Satan. At a dramatic moment of Jesus' ministry, when he was openly accused of casting out demons because of his alliance with Beelzebul, the chief of the demons, Jesus replied with these words that are at once severe and comforting: "Every kingdom that is divided falls into ruin, and no city or family that is divided can stand upright. Now if Satan drives out Satan, then he is divided in himself. How then can his kingdom stand upright?... And if it is by the power of the Spirit of God that I cast out the dem, then it is certain that the kingdom of God has come among you" (Mt 12:25-26, 28). "When a strong man, well armed, guards his palace, all his goods are secure. But if one stronger than he comes and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils" (Lk 11:21-22). The words which Christ speaks about the tempter find their historical fulfillment in the cross and resurrection of the Redeemer. As we read in the Letter to the Hebrews, Christ became a sharer in human nature even to the cross "in order to reduce to powerlessness, by means of death, the one who has power over death, that is, the devil...and thus to free those who...were held in slavery" (Heb 2:14-15). This is the great certainty of the Christian faith - "the prince of this world has been judged" (Jn 16:11); "the Son of God has appeared, in order to destroy the works of the devil" (1 Jn 3:8), as St. John bears witness. It is therefore the crucified and risen Christ who has revealed himself as that "stronger one" who has overpowered "the strong man," the devil, and has cast him down from his throne.

The Church participates in the victory of Christ over the devil, for Christ has given to his disciples the power to cast out demons (cf. Mt 10:1 and parallels; Mk 16:17). The Church uses this victorious power through faith in Christ and prayer (cf. Mk 9:29; Mt 17:19 ff.), which in particular cases can take the form of exorcism.

3. It is to this historical phase of the victory of Christ that the announcement and the beginning of the final victory, the Parousia, belongs. This is the second and definitive coming of Christ at the close of history, and it is toward this that the life of the Christian is oriented. Even if it is true that earthly history continues to unfold under the influence of "that spirit who now is at work in the rebellious," as St. Paul says (Eph 2:2), believers know that they have been called to struggle for the definitive triumph of the good. "For our battle is not against creatures made of blood and flesh, but against the principalities and powers, against those who hold communion over this world of darkness, against the spirits of evil that dwell in the heavenly places" (Eph 6:12).

4. As the end of the struggle gradually draws nearer, it becomes in a certain sense ever more violent, as Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, shows in a special emphasis (cf. Rv 12:7-9). But it is precisely this book that emphasizes the certainty that is given to us by all of divine revelation, that the struggle will finish with the definitive victory of the good. In this victory, which is contained in anticipation in the paschal mystery of Christ, there will be the definitive fulfillment of the first announcement in the Book of Genesis, which is significantly called the Proto-Evangelium, when God admonished the serpent: "I will put enmity between you and the woman" (Gen 3:15). In this definitive phase, God will complete the mystery of his fatherly Providence and "will set free from the power of darkness" those whom he has eternally "predestined in Christ" and will "bring them over into the kingdom of his beloved Son" (cf. Col 1:13-14). Then the Son will subject even the whole universe to the Father, so that "God may be all in all" (cf. 1 Cor 15:28).

5. Here we finish the catecheses on God as the Creator of "the things that are visible and invisible," which are united, in our structuring of the catecheses, with the truth about divine Providence. It is obvious to the eyes of the believer that the mystery of the beginning of the world and of history is joined indissolubly to the mystery of the end, in which the finality of all that has been created reaches its fulfillment. The creed unites so many truths in such an organic manner, that it is truly the harmonious cathedral of the faith.

In a progressive and organic way, we have been able to admire, struck dumb with wonder, the great mystery of the intelligence and love of God, in his action of creation, directed to the cosmos, to the human person, and to the world of pure spirits. We have considered the Trinitarian origin of this action and its wise orientation toward the life of man who is truly the "image of God." He is called in his turn to rediscover fully his own dignity in the contemplation of the glory of God. We have been enlightened about one of the greatest problems that perturb man and characterize his search for truth—the problem of suffering and of evil. At the root, there is no mistaken or wicked decision by God, but rather his choice - and in a certain manner the risk he has undertaken - of creating us free, in order to have us as friends. Evil too has been born of liberty. But God does not give up, and he predestines us with his transcendent wisdom to be his children in Christ, directing all with strength and sweetness, so that the good may not be overcome by evil.

We must now let ourselves be guided by divine revelation in our exploration of the other mysteries of our salvation. We have now received a truth which must be profoundly important for every Christian—that there are pure spirits, creatures of God, initially all good and then, through a choice of sin, irreducibly separated into angels of light and angels of darkness. The existence of the wicked angels requires of us that we be watchful so as not to yield to their empty promises. Yet we are certain that the victorious power of Christ the Redeemer enfolds our lives, so that we ourselves may overcome these spirits. In this, we are powerfully helped by the good angels, messengers of God's love, to whom, taught by the tradition of the Church, we address our prayer: "Angel of God, who are my guardian, enlighten, guard, govern and guide me, who have been entrusted to you by the heavenly goodness. Amen."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai pellegrini di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Soeurs,

Je voudrais saluer maintenant tous les pèlerins et visiteurs de langue française. Parmi eux je salue très cordialement un groupe d’étudiants venus d’Abidjan où j’ai eu la joie de consacrer la cathédrale il y a un an. J’adresse aussi mes voeux fervents aux jeunes du Groupement d’Activités Catholiques Internationales: qu’ils soient des bâtisseurs généreux de l’édifice ecclésial! Que les Apôtres Pierre et Paul les fortifient dans leur foi et les remplissent d’assurance et de joie pour aller de l’avant!

* * *

Je suis heureux d’accueillir le pèlerinage de prêtres et de laïcs du diocèse de Bruges: ils répondent à ma visite de l’an dernier en Belgique, à Ypres en particulier. Qu’ils sachent que le souvenir de leur pays est très vivant pour moi dans la mémoire du cœur. Je les encourage dans toutes leurs taches et leur témoignage évangélique.

Je demande à Dieu de vous bénir tous et de vous combler de ses dons.

Ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca 

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüße ich herzlich alle heutigen Audienzteilnehmer deutscher Sprache, die genannten Gruppen und auch die ungenannten Einzelpilger. Ich empfehle euch in eurem Kampf gegen das Böse in euch und um euch dem besonderen Schutz jener guten Geister, der Engel, die Gott eigens zu unseren Weggefährten bestimmt hat. Mögen sie euch auch wieder wohlbehalten in eure Heimat zurückbegleiten!

Einen besonderen Willkommensgruß richte ich an die Gruppe der Schwestern, die in La Storta an einem religiösen Erneuerungskurs teilnehmen und erbitte ihnen in ihren geistlichen Übungen Gottes Licht und Beitsand.

* * *

Schließlich grüße ich noch mit Freude die Jugendlichen aus Vietnam, die in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland eine neue Heimat gefunden haben. Ich versichere euch und euer ganzes Volk meiner besonderen Nahe und meines Gebetes. Von Herzen erteile ich euch und allen anwesenden Pilgern deutscher Sprache meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di lingua spagnola

Amados hermanos y hermanas,

Reciban mi más cordial saludo de bienvenida todos los peregrinos de lengua española.

En particular, saludo a los representantes de los 1.500 Propagandistas de la Obra de Ejercicios de Navarra, a quienes aliento a una generosa entrega apostólica y misionera, inspirados en la espiritualidad ignaciana.

* * *

Igualmente, deseo saludar a los componentes del Orfeón Universitario “Simón Bolívar” de Caracas.

A todas las personas, familias y grupos procedentes de los diversos Países de América Latina y de España imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica.

Ai fedeli di lingua portoghese

Quero dirigir a todos os irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa uma cordial saudação, com votos de bem, graça e paz. E dou as boas-vindas, em particular, ao simpático grupo de Jovens do Corpo Nacional de Escutas de Portugal, da paróquia de São Mamede, em Lisboa: “Alerta, para servir”, caros amigos, como Cristo serviu, enquadrando os vossos projectos de vida na sua mensagem e seguindo sempre as “pistas” do amor e da fraternidade, na edificação de um mundo novo, pela novidade de Jesus Cristo! Com a minha Benção Apostólica.

Ai pellegrini provenienti dalla Polonia

Pozdrawiam serdecznie wszystkich pielgrzymów wspólnoty akademickiej jezuitów z Krakowa; z parafii Trójcy Przenajświęstszej ze Starachowic; ze Skarżyska-Kamiennej; z parafii Wniebowzięcia SIatki Boskiej w Kraśniku; z parafii Wniebowzięcia Matki Bożej z Rzeszowa, ojcowie bernardyni; animatorów oazowych z Torunia, duszpasterstwo ojców redemptorystów; z dekanatu skoraszewskiego w diecezji opolskiej; z dekanatu Bystrzyca Kłodzka, archidiecezja wrocławska; z parafii św. Karola Boromeusza we Wrocławiu; z parafii św. Jana Chrzciciela z Leśnej, archidiecezja wrocławska; młodzież akademicką z parafii św. Kazimierza i Maksymiliana Kolbe ze Szczecina; pielgrzymke. mlodziezowa Wieczernika, ksieza pallotyni; pielgrzymke mlodziezowego zespolu wokalno-muzycznego z Sopotu, z parafii Gwiazda Morza; pielgrżymkę Klubu Inteligencji Katolickiej z Przemyśla; zespół pieśni i tańca “Kortowo” z Olsztyna; zespół regionalny “Dolina Dunajca” z Nowego Sącza; prócz tego uczestników grup turystycznych, studentów z Rzeszowa, PKS z Warszawy, PTTK z Warszawy, Logos Tour z Kielc, turystów indywidualnych z campingu “Capitol”, Polaków z campingu “Capaldio”, Orbis (nauczyciele), Turysta i Alma Tour z Lublina. Wszystkich serdecznie witam i pozdrawiam. 

Ai fedeli di lingua italiana

Desidero ora rivolgere il mio saluto alle suore capitolari dell’Istituto Suore dell’Immacolata di Genova, riunite presso la Casa Generalizia di Roma per il loro capitolo elettivo, per la revisione dello statuto secondo le disposizioni del nuovo Codice di Diritto Canonico e per approfondire la conoscenza del carisma dell’Istituto. Mi compiaccio con voi e benedico il vostro impegno, con la raccomandazione di ravvivare sempre in voi la fiamma della carità che ha caratterizzato la vita del vostro fondatore. 

* * *

Saluto poi le suore Ancelle del Sacro Cuore, anch’esse presenti in Roma per il Capitolo Generale. Ad esse va il mio augurio per un confortante esito della loro riunione, insieme con l’invito a diffondere in tutti i campi dell’apostolato la devozione al Cuore di Cristo. 

* * * 

Il mio pensiero va, infine, al numeroso gruppo delle suore Canossiane, Figlie della Carità, convenute un po’ da tutto il mondo, dalle loro case di Missione dell’Asia, dell’Africa e dell’America, per partecipare ad un seminario di formazione permanente.

Mi compiaccio con voi, ed a tutte imparto la mia Benedizione Apostolica. 

Ai giovani 

Un saluto cordiale ed affettuoso ai giovani presenti a questa Udienza. Desidero rivolgervi oggi un invito a cercare di sviluppare sempre in voi stessi un’autentica coscienza di pace. Abbiate la sincera consapevolezza che la pace è un bene prezioso e grande e che occorre un forte e costante impegno per realizzarla, seguendo con onestà e verità le vie che la costruiscono e la confermano nella società. Sappiate, perciò, trasfondere il vostro impegno per la pace nel tessuto sociale ed umano che vi riguarda, senza lasciarvi scoraggiare se lo trovate talvolta refrattario agli autentici valori della pace. Faccio voti che l’impegno per la pace sia sempre in voi sollecito, ricco di speranza, ma anche coraggioso e generoso. 

Agli ammalati

Desidero salutare, altresì, i cari malati e li invito a conservare anche nei momenti della prova, fortezza d’animo e fiducia. Ricordate le parole dell’Apostolo Paolo: “Dio non permetterà che siamo tribolati oltre le nostre possibilità”. Abbiate, pertanto, fiducia nella provvida azione di grazia del Signore, che vi è vicino, vi assiste, vigila sulle vostre vicende, vi sta accanto per sostenere, con il dolore della sua Croce, la sofferenza di ogni uomo. Siate forti nello spirito, consapevoli come siete che tanti doni di grazia dipendono dalla vostra capacità di rendervi, presso Dio, interpreti, nella preghiera e nella sofferenza, delle necessità dei fratelli.

Vi conforti e vi sostenga la mia Benedizione. 

Agli sposi novelli

Saluto anche le giovani coppie di sposi novelli, ai quali rivolgo il mio più fervido augurio per un felice avvenire delle loro famiglie, iniziate con la benedizione di Dio nel Sacramento del matrimonio.

Sia la carità di Cristo la regola fondamentale della vita in famiglia, lo spunto costante del vostro amore più autentico. La vostra carità si ispiri, nella fede, al modello di Gesù Cristo. Essa sia aperta, premurosa e generosa in tutte le situazioni difficili, che rendono l’uomo bisognoso di attenzione, di affetto e di delicata premura. Sia la carità cristiana la virtù che voi insegnerete ai figli con attenta e peculiare pedagogia, facendo loro comprendere che essa è il vertice di ogni altra virtù. Fate in modo che la famiglia sia una scuola costante, valida, efficace della virtù soprannaturale dell’amore.

Su tutti voi la mia cordiale Benedizione.

© Copyright 1996 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana