Vatican City – How to fight against the devil and his temptations? Overlooking St. Peter’s Square lashed by the rain and packed with thousands of faithful on the occasion of the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis gives some advice to believers.
The Gospel of this first Sunday of Lent, the Pontiff points out, “presents Jesus to us in the desert tempted by the devil. Devil means ‘divider’. The devil always wants to create division, and this is what he also proposes by tempting Jesus”. The devil’s goal is to “separate Jesus from the Father and distract him from his mission of unity for us. He always divides ”.
The devil, Pope Bergoglio explains, tries to instill three powerful “poisons” in Jesus, to paralyze his mission of unity. These poisons are attachment, distrust and power: “And we too live these amidst temptations, always. It’s terrible, but it’s true, even for us: attachment to things, distrust and thirst for power are three widespread and dangerous temptations, which the devil uses to divide us from the Father and no longer make us feel like brothers and sisters among us , to lead us to loneliness and despair. This he wanted to do to Jesus, this he wants to do to us: lead us to despair”.
“But Jesus overcomes temptations. And how does he win them? Avoiding arguing with the devil and responding with the Word of God. This is important: one does not argue with the devil, one does not dialogue with the devil! Jesus confronts him with the Word of God. He quotes three phrases from Scripture which speak of freedom from things (see Dt 8:3), of trust (see Dt 6:16) and of service to God (see Dt 6:13) , three sentences opposed to temptations. He never converses with the devil, he does not negotiate with him, but he rejects his insinuations with the beneficial Words of Scripture ”, continues the Pontiff, specifying:“ It is an invitation for us too: one does not argue with the devil! He does not negotiate, there is no dialogue; you don’t defeat him by dealing with him, he is stronger than us. We defeat the devil by faithfully opposing the divine Word to him. In this way Jesus teaches us to defend unity with God and with each other from the attacks of the divider. The divine Word which is Jesus’ answer to the temptation of the devil”.
Finally, he asks believers to examine their conscience: “What place does the Word of God have in my life? Do I resort to it in my spiritual struggles? If I have a recurring vice or temptation, why, with help, don’t I look for a verse of the Word of God that responds to that vice? Then, when temptation comes, I recite it, I pray it trusting in the grace of Christ. Let’s try, he will help us in temptations, he will help us a lot, because, among the voices that stir within us, he will resound the beneficial one of the Word of God “.
After the blessing, the Pontiff’s thoughts turn to the Holy Land: “So many people killed, including children… How can we stop this spiral of violence? I renew my appeal to ensure that dialogue prevails over hatred and revenge, and I pray to God for the Palestinians and Israelis, that they may find the path of fraternity and peace, with the help of the international community”.
Bergoglio also says he is “very concerned also about the situation in Burkina Faso, where terrorist attacks continue. I invite you to pray for the population of that dear country, so that the violence suffered does not cause them to lose faith in the path of democracy, justice and peace.”
Then he returns to pray for the migrants: “This morning I learned with pain of the shipwreck that took place on the Calabrian coast, near Crotone. Forty dead have already been recovered, including many children. I pray for each of them, for the missing and for the other surviving migrants. I thank those who have brought help and those who are welcoming. May Our Lady support these brothers and sisters of ours”. There is also a place for war in the appeals: “And let’s not forget the tragedy of the war in Ukraine, a year has already been made of war. And let’s not forget the pain of the Syrian and Turkish people for the earthquake”. (Photo © Vatican Media)
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