Thursday, January 26, 2017

the only real evil

Today St Augustine tells us what the only true evil is in A Year with the Church Fathers.

He says that disease, plague, famine, invasions by enemies... these things are not evils. They are bad things that happen in the world, but the only true evil is the spiritual evil that is found inside of man.

It brings to mind the admonition by Jesus that we not fear those who kill the body, but rather to fear (respect) God who can destroy both body and soul.

So what does this mean, practically? I mean, I think we can all agree that it's not a good thing when a plague kills millions of people. Or when an invading army rapes and pillages its way through a city. So why not call it evil?

The beatitudes might hold an answer to this question. After each "blessed are they", we hear the affairs of people who are not in happy places. They are poor in spirit, mourning, meek, and so forth. But even though (or maybe because) their circumstances are what we call "bad", God blesses them in the midst of those circumstances. We know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him. So even plague, war, famine, and so forth can be used for our good when they push us closer to God.

So when you find yourself in a tough place in your life, remember that God can and will use those things to bring you closer to Him. And there's nothing evil about that.

God, thank You for working in the hard times in our lives to bring us closer to You.