In Exodus, upon asking the Most High to reveal Himself, Moses is told to stand in a crevice and turn his face away. We read that later Moses sat face-to-face with the Lord. What happened in between?
The Divine Presence, which is Unconditional Love, seeks beings to love. We welcome that presence for the power it brings. But if beheld directly, the Divine Presence can annihilate the beloved. In seeking to absorb the light that is meant for others, we are overcome.
One step on Moses’ spiritual journey is related: he returns with the Commandments to discover his tribesman given over to idolatry. After venting his wrath on tablets and people, Moses returns to the mountain. The Most High offers him a choice: should we destroy the Israelites, or redeem them? Moses chose the second course and was given the task of recreating the tablets. Upon returning, his tribesmen asked Moses to cover his face, for the light shining forth blinded them.
In this history, we see illustrated the conclusion of Jesus’ instruction to the scholar of the Law: “Love God” – welcome Unconditional Love into the world; “Love your neighbor” – project it into the world around you; before concluding “All the Law and the prophets follow from this.”
Moses sat face-to-face with the Most High because he had chosen to renounce himself to the service of his people’s salvation. In turn, his imperfect countrymen received the gift of Unconditional Love through him.
Thus it is in our relationships. We are preserved in our encounter with Unconditional Love because it amplifies only that which is pleasing to our lovers. We cannot seize what does not belong to us, for it is only what we offer to others that is placed in the light of Love’s regard. To be Christian, then, is to surrender ourselves in service and to turn our eyes outward in celebration of the virtues found in Creation. In Paradise, we achieve “eternal life” in being preserved for the virtues that we share in return.
So what is Hell? In his book “An Exorcist Tells His Story” Father Amorth relates the testimony of the demons. “Hell is being totally alone.”
Selfishness creates nothing because it desires only itself. To gain strength, it must exploit other creatures. Thus the serpent captures Eve with the illusory implication of deification: “God does not want you to eat of the fruit of the tree because if you did you would become like Him, having knowledge of good and evil.” Leaving unspoken that such knowledge comes only from suffering the consequences of error.
In Revelation, the Beast is said to have a head that was “wounded but now is healed.” That wound was the visit of the Most High to Eden, where Adam was given the capacity to love unconditionally. The healing was the Fall, and through our assumption of shame we continue to feed the Serpent.
Why is the prince of lies so desperate? Left alone, selfishness turns inward and tears its host apart. This is reported in many cultures: the Ancient Hades was populated by souls focused only on their torments, ignorant that others surrounded them. In Dante’s Inferno, as interpreted by George Santayana, in the Circle of Air lovers in ecstasy are locked face-to-face, unable to see anything else.
Jesus describes the only escape from this self-absorption. Of the rich man “ignore the poor, and you too will become poor.” We must return to manifest our sin in material form and be redeemed by Christian love received from another. We must be redeemed from sin by those that we harmed.
Thus on the Cross, the Savior pleads, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
This is not just a human struggle, but a struggle for all of Creation. The Most High will not abandon those that Satan has consumed. We are His medicine, His great spiritual surgeons. What we “bind here on Earth” is bound in Heaven, and what we loose is loosed in heaven. So Father Amorth reports the demons plead: “We do not hate Christ. We test Him.”
Inside every demon is an angel seeking liberation. When confronted, offer them your witness of their hidden virtue. The results are miraculous.