It’s fascinating to see throughout history, the influence of the serpent in both culture and religion. How many prominent civilizations, some devilishly dominant and so technologically advanced for their time, held the worship of this so called “god.” We probably tend to ask ourselves, “Why would a loving God leave these children of his in error, basking in falseness?” That’s a fair question and the answer lies not in the finite mind, but in the infinite, the Divine mind. For scripture tells us in Acts 14:16, “In past generations he allowed all nations to walk in their own ways; yet he did not leave himself without witness.” You see, we can not come to understand God fully, not yet at least, but to try is to disprove of him, and thats impossible; It’s like the cartoon character trying to disprove the cartoonist. What we do come to understood is that God can bring good out of evil, and scripture testifies to this.
In the Book of Gen. 37:18-36, after Joseph was sold to slavery by his brothers, he suffered through trials and persecution, and not knowing God’s intentions, he was elevated to high authority in Egypt. This serves as a reminder of the trust we should have for God regardless of the circumstances. Years later, Joseph, after encountering his brothers; said to them – “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Many a people were saved by Joseph, for he fed their starvation for seven years. Another account, the Apostle Paul also fed the starving, spiritually, on the island of Malta after the shipwreck in Acts 28:1-10. After the natives witnessed a serpent fasten itself on his arm, they cried out that Paul was indeed a guilty man, and that the gods had served justice. They waited for Paul to swell up and drop dead, but after seeing him alive and well; they proclaimed him a god. Was this part of God’s plan, to use whatever spiritual knowledge these native people held for his purpose, to bring them in communion with him? Evidently the Lord had a plan for them, operating through Paul to witness to the Maltese for the 3 months they were ashore. Scripture doesn’t entirely describe the Maltese converting in the few verses we see, but tradition/history holds that the chief of the land; Publius, whose father was healed by Paul, became the first Catholic Bishop of Malta, and is now venerated as Saint Publius throughout the Church. This just goes to show that God is Charity, he uses one and all: the stubborn, the sinner, the Angels. But, the most dearest of his humble creatures, God used Our Blessed Mother; I will explain how her use by God was fruit to over 9 million coming to the Fullness of Faith in the Americas.
According to the apocryphal Book of Enoch, the fallen angels (theologically known as demons) showed men: the art of metals from the earth to utilize for weapons, enchantments, knowledge of the clouds, signs of the sun and course of the moon, constellations and astrology. Of course, we can shrug this off as fairy tales and mere mythology, but then again, lets take a look at a civilization of people who are held as the most barbaric to this day – The Aztecs.
Serpents were used in every aspect of their formalized worship. Snake skinned drums would beat as the victimized hearts of the sacrificed echoed their own music, slowly fainting to a halt; being offered up to Quetzalcoatl – the feathered serpent. These monstrous gods demanded those sacrificed to be consumed, flesh and blood. Sound familiar? Millions were sacrificed, women and children included. Maybe the True God, having seen enough, heard the blood calling out from the ground – “The Lord said, What have you done? Listen! Your brothers blood cries out from the ground!” Gen. 4:10
The year was 1531, and one of the greatest spiritual turning points for the Native Aztec Indians. It had been about 12 years after the Spaniards landed and demanded tribute to the Judeo-Christian God after being appalled by the temple practices of the Aztecs. And, lets be honest, we know that some of these Spaniards did not have the greatest moral standings, either. So the natives being fierce warriors, revolted, but they were no match for European weapons. After most Aztec cities were conquered, and the last emperor Cuauhtémoc surrendered, the Aztec Empire had fallen, but their religious practices remained very alive. Missionaries had converted many, unfortunately the majority of the population held to their pagan beliefs, but God was not finished, yet.
Rev 12:1 “And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” This is the image of the woman who appeared to a native Aztec indian, St. Juan Diego, asking him to go to the bishop and demand a church be built on the site she appeared, which previously had been a sacrificial ground. The bishop didn’t believe St. Juan Diego, and demanded a sign from this mysterious woman. Around the same time, St Juan Diego’s uncle was very ill, to the point of death; thus so that the Saint avoided the woman by a longer route to summon a Priest for his uncle’s last rites. Nevertheless, she appeared to him, promised a cure for his uncle and asked the Saint to pick flowers at the first apparition site. He gathered the flowers in his cactus woven cloak, and with her blessing, he went to the Bishop. After opening his cloak, the beautiful flowers which were not native to Mexico, but Spain, and not in season during the frosty December weather – were at a perfect bloom. The Bishop was astonished by the fragrance and sight of the flowers, while suddenly, he noticed the miraculous Image of the Virgin- who called herself in the native Nahuatl language, “Coatlaxopeuh,” which means “She who crushes the serpent.” Coatlaxopeuh is pronounced “quatlasupe,” and sounds a lot like “Guadalupe” in spanish – there is no doubt that this is where the translation originated from.
Within a few years, around 9 million Natives converted to the Catholic Faith after coming to knowledge, through God’s grace, of the message derived from this miraculous image. The natives related to her because of her mestizo complexion, the fact that she was clothed with the stars, standing in front of the sun and on top of the moon, symbolized to them something greater than their “gods” whom they worshipped in the stars, sun and moon. But, they also realized that from her posture – knee up, in form of dance, which was the Aztec way to give praise, meant she was giving glory to someone else – but who!? The Virgin wore the Aztec maternity belt which was custom to their culture, and adorned with the Cross on her brooch around her neck, this confirmed to the Aztecs the doctrine and teachings of the Spanish missionaries – Jesus Christ. Soon they came to trust the Spanish missionaries and gradually converted. To this day, the original cloak with the image, even after multiple attempts by others to destroy it, is intact in Mexico City at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It has been the subject of study, from scientists to professors (believers and non-believers) all around the Globe, and no explanation can be given or can it be disproved; leading us to suspect – a supernatural cause behind it. She is now known as the Patron Saint of the Americas, leading the people hand in hand to her Most Glorious Son – The Lord Jesus Christ – true God and true man.
Christ promised us – “The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.” God uses the devil to defeat the devil, just as He did on the Cross. The mere victory of the Ancient Serpent – the death of Christ, was the defeat of evil, and the redemption of the world. God, who spoke the first word – will always get the last!