The Gospel of the first Sunday of Lent reminds us of “this cunning enemy, interested in our eternal condemnation, our failure”. Yesterday afternoon Francis visited Ms Edith Bruck, a poet who survived the Holocaust.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Speaking at the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis commented on the passage of the Gospel of Mark about the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, where he was tempted by the devil.
Like Jesus in the desert, we too must prepare to fight the Tempter, “this cunning enemy, interested in our eternal condemnation, our failure,” said the Pope. “We must never talk to him.”
“Every year, at the start of Lent, the Gospel about Jesus' temptations in the desert reminds us that the life of Christians, in the footsteps of the Lord, is a fight against the spirit of evil. It shows us that Jesus voluntarily faced the Tempter and beat him; at the same time, it reminds us that the devil is allowed to act on us too with temptations. We must be aware of the presence of this cunning enemy, interested in our eternal condemnation, our failure, and prepare to defend ourselves and fight him.”
“God's grace assures us, through faith, prayer and penance, victory over the enemy. I would like to emphasise that during the temptations Jesus never engages the devil dialogue, indeed in his life he never talks with the devil. This is so for all of us, when the Tempter approaches, one must not talk to him. Eve talked to him and fell. One must never talk to the devil.”
“In the time of Lent, the Holy Spirit also pushes us, like Jesus, to go into the desert. It is not a physical place; it is an existential dimension in which to be silent, listen to the word of God, “so that true conversion may be carried out in us” (Collecta, 1st Sunday of Lent B). We are called to walk on God's paths, renewing the promises of our Baptism: to renounce Satan, all his works and all his seductions.” “The enemy is there, crouching down. Be careful; never talk to him.”
Addressing the few thousand people present in St Peter's Square, Francis explained that on the first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel “shows us the way to live in a fruitful way the 40 days leading up to the annual celebration of Easter. It is the road Jesus travelled” in the desert.
“The desert. Let us pause for a moment on this natural and symbolic environment, so important in the Bible. The desert is the place where God speaks to the heart of man, and where the answer of prayer flows.”
It is a place of solitude that opens up to the Word of God. “But it is also a place of trial and temptation, where the Tempter, taking advantage of human fragility and needs, insinuates his false voice, an alternative to that of God. It makes you see another path, a path of deceit.”
“Indeed, during the 40 days Jesus lived by in the desert, the 'duel' between Jesus and the devil begins, which will end with the Passion and the Cross. Christ’s whole ministry is a struggle against the Evil One in its many manifestations: healing from disease, exorcisms of those possessed by the devil, forgiveness of sins.
“After the first phase in which Jesus shows that he is speaking and acting with the power of God, it appears that the devil has the better of him, when the Son of God is rejected, abandoned and, finally, captured and condemned to death. The devil won, apparently. In reality, death was the last 'desert' to cross to definitively defeat Satan and free all of us from his power.”
Yesterday afternoon, Pope Francis visited Ms Edith Bruck, a poet who survived the Holocaust, at her home in Rome.
In a statement, the Holy See Press Office noted that “the conversation with the Pope revisited those moments of light with which the experience of the hell of the camps was punctuated and evoked the fears and hopes for the time in which we live, emphasising the value of memory and the role of the elderly in cultivating it and passing it on to the young. After about an hour, Pope Francis and Ms Bruck said goodbye and the Pope returned to the Vatican.”