"Take courage, for I have conquered the world." (Jn 16:33)

I had the privilage of taking a couple from Hungary around St. Peter's Basilica the other day, during the tour this Hungarian man asked me many good and profound questions that strike the heart of the human person, religious or not. One of these questions that I will reflect on briefly is the question of evil.

Almost every person, no matter his or her religion, admits to a mysterious part of human existence called 'evil.' The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks thus: "Every man experiences evil around him and within himself." (#1606) The questions remain, however, "What is evil? Does it have the last word? How can evil exist if God is good?" Anyone of these questions alone could be the topic of an upper level academic course, which would still only scratch the surface of the issue. Here I would just like to make some comments on evil with respect to the Catholic Tradition and in view of our faith in Jesus Christ.

The first and most pressing question, "from where does evil come," is layed out beautifully in the Catechism: "I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution," said St. Augustine, whose own painful quest would be resolved only by his conversion to the living God. We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror [Jesus Christ]." (#385)

So where does evil come from? Certainly, we believe that God created all things out of nothing and when He saw what He had created, "indeed it was good, very good." (Gn 1:31) If God did not create evil, then evil must be the result of something else. What though? How does evil exist if God is all powerful and all good? The answer we receive from the Tradition of the Church is that we were created in the image and likeness of God, Who is Love - which demands freedom as nothing forced is Love - and because we have been created in the image of the God Who is Love we must be free. Thus in allowing man freedom (the potential to love), man is also free to act in contridiction to his nature: not loving, or evil. The Church teaches that evil doesn't exist as its own substance (something created by God), but rather is always a deprivation of the good. It twists that which is good and thus evil is incurred. For example, when someone drinks water, that is a good thing. People can drink too much water however, and kill themselves by water poisoning. Someone could despair of their life and use water to kill themselves. Cocaine is still used today as a topical anesthetic, even for children, for eye, nose and throat surgery. This certainly is a good thing. However, as we know all to well, people abuse cocaine all the time and in many cases it ends up costing them their life.

Lastly, the Church teaches that God allows evil to happen so that He may bring about a greater good. The greatest evil humanity has ever committed is the rejection of the Son of God, Jesus, through our sins. You and I, the people who came before us and the ones that will come after us, we are all responsible for the death of Jesus because of our sins. God in His infinite goodness, however, brought the greatest human good and triumph out of the greatest evil: our salvation, the ultimate conquering of sin and death.

Although it often appears that evil has come away victorious, the Good God has won the game by the death of His Son Jesus Christ; we just have to run the clock out with style.

Praised be Jesus Christ!

  1. gravatar

    # by George - June 22, 2009 at 5:31 PM

    Evil is just the absence of Good.. the same way as darkness is the absence of light..

    God did not create darkness and did not create evil, He created light and Good.