A few days ago, I received a curious protest petition against the upcoming series Lucifer, which will premiere in January on FOX and is based on a character from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. The e-mail highlights how the series would show the devil as a nice guy, solving crimes and being kind and compassionate to all sorts of people. The e-mail stated how important it was to urge FOX not to air the show, for it’s portrayal of the devil would confuse the ill-informed and corrupt the youth.
But, this description of the devil brought an important fact to my mind: the devil never shows himself as the hate-filled and filth-loving monster that he is. If he does take that aspect, it is only toward people who assiduously resist his temptations and refuse to be taken in by the devil’s facade. Fulton Sheen appropriately notes that the devil pretends to be a friend of human freedom before a sin, while God, who actively tries to stop us from doing evil, appears as if He were against human freedom.
St. Faustina writes in her diary, published under the title Divine Mercy in My Soul (one of the greatest modern spiritual works one can own), that she was given a vision of two roads: one had people weeping as they climbed a steep, narrow path covered with jagged rocks; the other contained people laughing and singing as they danced along a broad road strewn with flowers. The people on the latter looked beautiful and happy as they went from one worldly delight to the next. Yet, that road suddenly grew steep and the thousands of people began falling off a precipice into hell with terror and pain. Conversely, those weeping on the narrow climb found a garden of delight waiting for them on top of their path, and their faces beamed with joy.
This classic dichotomy of virtue and vice has its locus classicus in the myth of Hercules. Virtue and Vice personified visit Hercules. Vice begins by telling Hercules about all the pleasures which will be ripe for the taking if he follows her path. Then, with Vice sneering at her all the while, Virtue talks about all the hardships and pain which Hercules will undergo in following hers. When Vice laughs at the apparent nonsense of following Virtue, Virtue turns on her by describing the miserable end which befalls those who follow Vice and the honor attained by the virtuous. And so, Hercules gladly took up the hard way of virtue for the honor he should receive through its pursuit.
So, let FOX air this show which displays the false face of the devil. And, let believers remind others of the malevolence lurking behind this false facade. I remarked above that the devil pretends to be the friend of human freedom before a sin. After sinning and a life of vacuous pleasure, when a person realizes how far they have wandered from goodness and meaning, as soon as the painful realization of a wasted life hits, the devil reveals a different face towards the crushed and miserable sinner: “Well, so what? You had your fun, now pay the price. What are you to me? If you feel so miserable and that life is so pointless, kill yourself!” How many, plunged in despair like Judas Iscariot, run for a tree and hang themselves on it?
Yet, Our Lord is different. He shows Himself as restrictive before someone sins. After a sin, Christ manifests Himself as Mercy and Love. If the damned had turned to the One who was hung upon a tree for the life of the world instead of hanging themselves upon a tree for their worldly guilt, they should have been saved by the Tree of Life. The devil says, “Die! Nothing matters.” But, God rebukes the devil: “This soul matters to Me. For him, I shed My blood upon the cross. If he simply turns to Me and forsakes his evil ways, he shall find joy, love, and meaning. I will not turn away anyone who comes to Me. Venite Mihi omnes–All men, come to Me!”