“You are the god who understands. You know rejection, loss, and grief.” – Aaron Shust
One of the most important aspects of Christ’s identity within Catholicism is the combination of his being both divine and mortal—of being capable of redeeming humanity through his divinity alone, but choosing to suffer and die as a man.
When discussing Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows or Christ’s crucifixion, it is often in the context of them bearing the weight of our guilt and sins, of suffering for a brief moment in time so that we might be spared of that same pain.
But not so with Lucifer. As the Mourningstar, his grief is perpetual. It is not one fixed event, not a means to an end. Unless you hold to the idea that Lucifer fell as a direct result of gifting humanity with knowledge, his suffering serves no greater purpose. There is no hope for redemption or salvation in return for his grief. He does not grieve to spare humanity of their suffering. He grieves because of loss, some might say as punishment for his actions.
But perhaps this suffering is not entirely without purpose. There’s a certain kind of knowledge that can be gained through grief, and a certain kind of beauty as well. At the loss of a loved one, we mourn over a life well lived, however short it might have been. We cry because of the impact that person had on our lives. Had they never shared that connection with us, there’d be no reason for us to feel pain in their absence. And so I’m led to believe that Lucifer’s grief over his lost home and kin is born out of love.
However, there’s another sort of suffering that is relevant to both Christ and Lucifer. In his final hour, Christ was said to have broken down and asked his father, “Why have you forsaken me?”. Some say this was a sign of his humanity. Another interpretation is that it was at this point in which he felt the weight of the world’s sins, and was compelled to cry out a phrase which hangs heavy on the tongues of those he sought to save, burdened with suffering as a result of their sins. I find this particular interpretation rather interesting, considering a discussion I had concerning the etymology of the name Iblis within Islam:
“Iblees (Satan) name comes from the root بلس (balasa) which means to give up hope or to despair, because he despaired in the mercy of God. Thinking that you’ve slipped up or intentionally sinned so much that Allah can’t and won’t forgive you isn’t real talk, it’s satanic.”
While Christ intentionally bore the burden of humanity’s sins and despair during his crucifixion, it could be said that Lucifer unintentionally bears the burden of the world’s sins and despair now. How often do we accuse the devil of being the source of all evil in the world, of leading us to sin? How often do we shrug off the responsibility of our own actions onto his shoulders? If the weight of humanity’s sins in that one moment caused Christ to cry out in despair, is it really any surprise that Lucifer would lose hope in there being any mercy granted to him from his god, after lifetimes of being burdened with that same weight?
We find ourselves feeling equally grateful and guilty at Christ’s suffering for our sake, because it was humanity that he died for, and humanity that scorned and condemned him for his sacrifice. But Lucifer? Perhaps the majority believes he deserves such suffering. Perhaps ‘love and pray for thy enemy’ does not apply to him. But the way I see it, while Christ suffers and grieves for us, Lucifer suffers and grieves alongside us.
I think it is therefore fitting that Lucifer be referred to as the ‘god of this world’. Job 1:7 seems to back up the idea that he was not cast down to ‘hell’, but rather to earth. It is fitting that an entity exiled for his flawed nature should spend his days amongst equally flawed beings. It is fitting that a ‘god of this world’ should know and understand human sentiments, and be able to relate to those he offered the gift of knowledge to, and subsequently introduced grief and suffering to.