St. Maximus the Confessor
“Just as the devil had poisoned the tree of knowledge and spoiled our nature by its taste, so too, in presuming to devour the Lord’s flesh he himself is corrupted and is completely destroyed by the power of the Godhead hidden in it.” – St. Maximus the Confessor, c.580-662
This was part of the second reading in today’s ordinary Office of Readings (not the readings for St. Elizabeth Seton).
This struck me as a perfect description of what Christ brings to the culture-maintaining tools (via blood sacrifice) the world provides. In our fallen nature we are easily caught up in mimetic contagion and all that it entails. The devil certainly did “poison the tree”, resulting in a community around the victim-scapegoat. With Jesus, the devil saw his rival and tried to destroy him, not knowing that it was through the Cross that scapegoating would be broken going forward. The power of the mimetic crowd around the slain victim lost its absolute hold on humanity insofar as the Gospel has reached that corner of the world.
Conflict can be resolved by self-sacrifice or blood-sacrifice, and now only self-sacrifice is viable.