31. New Jersey Devil(s)
New Jersey is associated, in more ways than one, with the devil (Lakewood, where I perceived the Marion apparition, is in New Jersey). However, Biblically, the devil is neither a scurrying animal (a “Jersey Devil”) nor a hockey player (the state’s professional hockey team is the “Devils”). Rather—and to remove hype and to make plain, theological sense of a term—“Satan” is a Hebrew word. For instance, it appears in the Book of Job (1:6, etc.). From an Orthodox-Jewish perspective, Satan is a force of destruction. From a Christological perspective, Satan is what destroys (in contrast, Jesus saves). With that considered, and as Jesus rightly called Simon Peter “Satan” when Simon Peter was acting destructively (Mt.16:23, etc.), satanic behaviors, traditionally and simply, are the doings of even the otherwise best people whenever they are engaged in destructive or unsafe activities.
What is destructive or unsafe? The wages of sin are death; and, the body is the Temple. Therefore, destructive or unsafe behavior is that which either produces or more likely leads to hurt, loss, or death.
Why is it so important that the Gospels relate that Simon Peter, Jesus’ top disciple, was, at one point, an embodiment of Satan due to his wrongful behavior? To give us all hope that we can surmount any sinful nature, and thereafter, lead productive lives! After all, if someone who eventually became the namesake of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome was once so low as to embody Satan, it is hard to imagine any sin that the power of repentance cannot overcome!