This passage in Paul’s letter to the Galatians has always presented a challenge for me. I tend to bristle at it because it seems to equate the world in which we live (flesh) with evil and the world of the Spirit (another world) with good. It seems like a false dualism. What ever happened to God looking upon the entirety of his creation and declaring it good? Whatever happened to finding God in all things? At the same time, I acknowledge that as Paul describes them, the works of the flesh are evil and the fruits of the Spirit are good.
Maybe the valuable lesson for me in this reading is to acknowledge and recognize the existence and effects of evil. I do tend to keep my focus on our loving God to the exclusion of seeing evil in the world and in my own life. Ignatius has us pray about evil and the work of Satan extensively in the first week of the Spiritual Exercises and then again in the meditation on the Two Standards during the second week of prayer.
Pope Francis, as a true son of Ignatius, has repeatedly reminded us of the existence of Satan and his works of evil. Do not underestimate your enemy and for heaven’s sake, don’t deny his existence.
—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.