Vatican Radio is reporting that the core message of his homily last Friday in the Santa Marta residence is that the devil is real and the Gospel teaches us how to fight against his temptations.
“We too are tempted, we too are the target of attacks by the devil because the spirit of Evil does not want our holiness, he does not want our Christian witness, he does not want us to be disciples of Christ. And what does the Spirit of Evil do, through his temptations, to distance us from the path of Jesus?
“The temptation of the devil has three characteristics and we need to learn about them in order not to fall into the trap. What does Satan do to distance us from the path of Jesus? First, his temptation begins gradually but grows and is always growing. Second, it grows and infects another person, it spreads to another and seeks to be part of the community. And in the end, in order to calm the soul, it justifies itself. It grows, it spreads and it justifies itself.”
He then turned to the Bible where Jesus is tempted in the desert by Satan and showed how each time the devil was resisted, he came back with a stronger temptation. The first temptation, to turn stones into bread so that Jesus could eat after His long fast was “like a seduction”, the Pope said. The devil came back a second time and told Jesus to throw Himself off the parapet of the Temple and let the angels catch Him, thus proving to all that He was the Son of God. “When the devil is rejected, he grows and comes back stronger than before,” the pope warned.
In this way, Satan’s temptations start out like a “calm trickle of water” but turn into a flood of water. This is how temptation grows infects others, then justifies itself.
“For example, let’s look at gossip: I’m a bit envious of this or that person and at first I’m just envious inside and I need to share it and go to another person and say: “But have you seen that person?’.. and this gossip tries to grow and infects another and another… This is the way gossip works and all of us have been tempted to gossip! Maybe not one of you, if you’re a saint , but I too have been tempted to gossip! It’s a daily temptation. And it begins in this way, discreetly, like a trickle of water. It grows by infecting others and in the end it justifies itself.”
Francis concluded by urging people to be vigilant and not to give in to that initial temptation and thus allow it to spread to others and justify itself.
“We are all tempted because the law of our spiritual life, our Christian life is a struggle: a struggle. That’s because the Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”
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