Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pope Francis On The Duel Between Jesus And Satan

Francis spoke of the Gospel of the first Sunday of Lent, which every year presents the story of Jesus'  temptation in the desert, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him after His baptism in the Jordan, urging Him to openly confront Satan in the wilderness for forty days, before beginning His public ministry:
"the tempter tries to divert Jesus from the Father's plan, in other words from the path of sacrifice, love the offering of Himself in expiation.  He tries to make Him choose the easy path of success and power. The duel between Jesus and Satan is a rally of quotations from the Holy Scriptures. The devil, in fact, to divert Jesus from the way of the cross, presents Him with false messianic hopes: economic well-being, indicated in the ability to turn stones into bread;  a lifestyle of the miraculous and spectacular seen in the idea of throwing Himself off the highest point of the temple of Jerusalem, to be saved by angels, and finally a shortcut to power and domination, in exchange for Him openly worshipping Satan. There are three groups of temptations: we too know them well".
Jesus, the Pope explained, 
"firmly rejects all these temptations and reiterates His determination to follow the path set by the Father, without any compromise with sin and with the logic of the world. Notice how well Jesus answers Satan, not entering into a dialogue as Eve had done in the Garden of Eden . Jesus knows that you cannot dialogue with Satan, because he is too cunning.   This is why Jesus, instead of entering into a dialogue like Eve, chooses to take refuge in God's Word and responds with the power of this Word.  We should remember this when we are tempted: do not argue with Satan, always defend ourselves with the Word of God.  And this will save us ".
In his response to Satan, the Lord reminds us, first, that "man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Mt 4:4; cfrDt 8.3), and this gives us strength, supports us in our battle against the worldly mentality that lowers man to the level of his most basic needs, causing him to lose his hunger for what is true, good and beautiful, the hunger for God and His love. Also remember that "It is also written: 'Do not test the Lord your God'" (v. 7), because the road of faith also passes through darkness, doubt, and is nourished by patience and perseverance. Finally remember that "it is written:" The Lord, your God, shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve '"(v.10), that is, we have rid ourselves of idols,  of vain things, and build our lives on the essentials. These words of Jesus will then been translated into actions. His absolute faithfulness to the Father's plan of love will lead Him after about three years to the final showdown with the "prince of this world" (Jn 16:11), the hour of the passion and cross, Jesus will return and there His is the final victory, the victory of love! "
Dear brothers, the Pope concludes, 
"is a fitting occasion for all of us to undertake a journey of conversion, by sincerely taking this Gospel passage into consideration. Let us renew the promises of our Baptism: renouncing Satan and all his works and seduction, to walk the path of God "to arrive at Easter in the joy of the Spirit" (cf. Collect, I Sunday of Lent Year A)".
Immediately after the Marian prayer, the Pope greeted, as usual, the various groups present in St. Peter's Square, recalling the campaign launched by Caritas International against hunger in the world, and announced the beginning of the usual spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia, which will begin this afternoon at the house of the Divine Master in Ariccia, a small hill top town South of Rome.  The retreat will end Friday, March 14th: "I hope that the Lenten journey which has just begun will be a fruitful one for you all and I ask you to remember me and my collaborators of the Roman Curia in your prayers, as we begin this evening a week of Spiritual Exercises . Thank you. Have a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye".
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