The Deadly Predicament
image above is perhaps not simply the most graphic, but
probably the most apposite depiction of the predicament of
It is chilling.
Examine it carefully: the smooth involuted teeth, tapered to
infinitely fine and absolutely unyielding points. Bending in along
polished surfaces, the teeth allow their unwary prey to enter
But once in, escape — if at all possible — is unimaginably painful:
rending flesh, piercing, scoring, tearing, the teeth leave none
unscathed who are caught within. They scar, maim, and deform for
life. Even if escape is quick it is only at great cost and immense
suffering. Yes, that image of a Python’s skull is the most
appropriate image for the danger of sin … that crouches at the
door and voraciously awaits us.
We cannot toy with this demon, imagining ourselves more
clever and capable of eluding it. It is far stronger than we are.
Like all serpents, its jaws can only be held shut — for clamped down
upon, it does not have the strength to open — but once open, it
seizes upon us with a ferocity and force that betrays the innocuous
flicker of the slender forked tongue that intrigues us as it
encroaches upon us. We cannot allow it to. We must not allow
Our greatest safety lies in distance — and vigilance. Not simply the
sin itself, but as Holy Mother Church teaches, from “The near
occasion of sin”.
Perhaps that is why Satan is depicted as a Serpent in the Garden of
Sin is first and foremost a liar. Given that Satan is
“the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning”
is not surprising that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were first
seduced into sin by the lies of the serpent, by the alluring
deception that they could be like God.
Sin is always alluring, attractive. Were it not — and could
we clearly see the destructive, fatal, even eternal consequences of
sin — we would panic, and instantly flee it!
Time and again we are warned that
“the wages of sin is death”
2 But let us be candid: the reality is that we like to
toy with sin — to “sin … just a little”.
However, since its consequence is death, the obvious question is
inescapable: can we be “dead … just a little”?
Likewise, you are either alive to God (in a state of grace) — or you
There is no middle ground.
Moral of the story? Next time you are mesmerized by something as
remotely sinuous and intriguing as a snake — it probably is a
1 Saint John 8.44
2 Romans 6.23
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
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