No evil without the good

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

INDEED, evil cannot exist by itself. It has to refer itself to something that is good which it denies, distorts, corrupts, etc. And if we are smart enough, we should not worry too much about all the evils we can encounter in our life. As long as we know how to refer them to the good and the true that they stand on, we would know how to deal with these evils properly.

We are somehow reminded of this truth of our faith in that gospel episode where Herod the tetrarch had a consuming desire to know and to see Christ whom he did not meet yet. (cfr. Lk 9,7-9) “Herod said, ‘John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he kept trying to see him,” the gospel narrates.

As we can see, despite the seething evil of hatred Herod had in his heart against the early Christians, he was eager to know and see Christ, somehow validating what our Catechism tells us that there is always in man a natural and inherent desire for the good.

Yes, despite our weaknesses, mistakes, sins, etc., we have in our heart of hearts an inherent desire for the good, for heaven, for God. As the Catechism would put it, “This desire (for happiness) is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it.” (1718)

This truth of our faith is also illustrated in that gospel episode where a rich young man approached Christ, asking what he had to do to gain eternal life. (cfr. Mk 10,17-27) As that gospel story unfolded, Christ told him first to follow the commandments, and when the young man said that he had observed all those, Christ then told him to “sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

We should always bear this truth of our faith in mind whenever we are assailed by evil in any form it may come. It always has to refer to something true and good which it tries to twist, distort or outrightly deny. It cannot stand on its own. It offers nothing new, nothing original.

Knowing that fact gives us the effective way to deal with it, so we avoid falling for it. What we have to do is to refer ourselves to the truth and to the source of all goodness who is God.

This was how Christ dealt with the devil who tried to tempt him. (cfr. Mt 4,1-11) In that episode in Christ’s life, the devil quoted passages of Scripture to lure Christ to go into the devil’s will and ways. But those passages were all twisted and distorted to suit the devil’s interest. Christ, of course, knew this and quickly clarified things to him. Eventually, the devil left Christ in peace.

This episode clearly shows us that it is the truth that will make us free. (cfr. Jn 8,32) It is our intimate relation with the God, the source of all goodness, who will protect us from the very subtle tricks and wiles of the devil.

To defend ourselves from evil that will always hound us in our earthly life, we need to really know the truth well and to always keep in touch with God, never allowing ourselves to stay far from him. In this regard, we can never overemphasize our need for God.