Devil

Devil - Pope Francis     

24.03.13          Celebration of Palm Sunday the Passion of our Lord      Luke 19: 28-40


Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Lk 19:38).

Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, and he has bent down to heal body and soul.

This is Jesus. This is his heart which looks to all of us, to our sicknesses, to our sins. The love of Jesus is great. And thus he enters Jerusalem, with this love, and looks at us. It is a beautiful scene, full of light - the light of the love of Jesus, the love of his heart - of joy, of celebration.

At the beginning of Mass, we too repeated it. We waved our palms, our olive branches. We too welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives. Jesus is God, but he lowered himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. He illumines our path here. And in this way we have welcomed him today. And here the first word that I wish to say to you: joy! Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst; it is born from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! And in this moment the enemy, the devil, comes, often disguised as an angel, and slyly speaks his word to us. Do not listen to him! Let us follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world. Please do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let hope be stolen! The hope that Jesus gives us.





Slander is as old as the world and it is already mentioned in the Old Testament. It suffices to think of the episode of Queen Jezabel with the vineyard of Naboth, or that of Susanna with the two judges. When it is impossible to obtain something “in the right way, in a holy way”, people have recourse to slander which destroys. This reminds us, that we are sinners: all of us. We have sinned. But slander is something else. It is a sin but it is also something more, because “it wants to destroy God's work and is spawned by something very nasty: it is spawned by hatred. And the person who generates hatred is Satan”. Falsehood and slander go hand in hand since in order to make headway they need each other. And there is no doubt, wherever there is slander there is Satan, Satan himself.

Psalm 119 [118] : “Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. Your testimonies are my delight”. The just man in this case is Stephen, the Proto-Martyr mentioned in the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Stephen “gazed at the Lord and obeyed the law”. He was the first in the long series of witnesses of Christ who spangle the history of the Church. Martyrs abound, not only in the past but also in our day. Here in Rome, we have a great many witnesses of martyrs, starting with Peter; but the season of martyrs is not over. We can truly say that today too the Church has more martyrs than she had in the early centuries. Indeed, the Church has so many men and women who are slandered,
persecuted and killed, in hatred of Jesus, in hatred of the faith. Several are killed for “teaching the Catechism”; others, for “wearing the cross”. Calumny finds room in the large number of countries where Christians are persecuted. They are our brothers and sisters, who are suffering today, in this age of martyrs. This must give us food for thought. Persecuted by hatred: it is actually the devil who sows hatred in those who instigate persecution.

The first Latin Antiphon of the Virgin Mary is “ Sub tuum praesidium ”. “Let us pray Our Lady to protect us”, and in times of spiritual turbulence the safest place is beneath Our Lady's mantle”. Indeed, she is the Mother who cares for the Church. And in this season of martyrs, she is, as it were, the protagonist of protection. She is Mother.

Trust in Mary, address to her the prayer that begins with the words “Under your protection”, and remember the ancient icon showing her “covering her people with her mantle: she is Mother”. This is the most useful thing: in this time of “hatred, of spiritual turbulence, the safest possible place is beneath Our Lady's mantle.


Pope Francis  24.07.13  28th World Youth Day      Revelations 12:13A,15-16A      Esther 5:3

Your Eminence,

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My Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

What joy I feel as I come to the house of the Mother of every Brazilian, the Shrine of our Lady of Aparecida! The day after my election as Bishop of Rome, I visited the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, in order to entrust my ministry to Our Lady. Today I have come here to ask Mary our Mother for the success of World Youth Day and to place at her feet the life of the people of Latin America.

There is something that I would like to say first of all. Six years ago the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean was held in this Shrine. Something beautiful took place here, which I witnessed at first hand. I saw how the Bishops – who were discussing the theme of encountering Christ, discipleship and mission – felt encouraged, supported and in some way inspired by the thousands of pilgrims who came here day after day to entrust their lives to Our Lady. That Conference was a great moment of Church. It can truly be said that the Aparecida Document was born of this interplay between the labours of the Bishops and the simple faith of the pilgrims, under Mary’s maternal protection. When the Church looks for Jesus, she always knocks at his Mother’s door and asks: “Show us Jesus”. It is from Mary that the Church learns true discipleship. That is why the Church always goes out on mission in the footsteps of Mary.

Today, looking forward to the World Youth Day which has brought me to Brazil, I too come to knock on the door of the house of Mary – who loved and raised Jesus – that she may help all of us, pastors of God’s people, parents and educators, to pass on to our young people the values that can help them build a nation and a world which are more just, united and fraternal. For this reason I would like to speak of three simple attitudes: hopefulness, openness to being surprised by God, and living in joy.

1. Hopefulness. The second reading of the Mass presents a dramatic scene: a woman – an image of Mary and the Church – is being pursued by a Dragon – the devil – who wants to devour her child. But the scene is not one of death but of life, because God intervenes and saves the child (cf. Rev 12:13a, 15-16a). How many difficulties are present in the life of every individual, among our people, in our communities; yet as great as these may seem, God never allows us to be overwhelmed by them. In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life, in our efforts to evangelize or to embody our faith as parents within the family, I would like to say forcefully: Always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts! The “dragon”, evil, is present in our history, but it does not have the upper hand. The one with the upper hand is God, and God is our hope! It is true that nowadays, to some extent, everyone, including our young people, feels attracted by the many idols which take the place of God and appear to offer hope: money, success, power, pleasure. Often a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people leads them to seek satisfaction in these ephemeral idols. Dear brothers and sisters, let us be lights of hope! Let us maintain a positive outlook on reality. Let us encourage the generosity which is typical of the young and help them to work actively in building a better world. Young people are a powerful engine for the Church and for society. They do not need material things alone; also and above all, they need to have held up to them those non-material values which are the spiritual heart of a people, the memory of a people. In this Shrine, which is part of the memory of Brazil, we can almost read those values: spirituality, generosity, solidarity, perseverance, fraternity, joy; they are values whose deepest root is in the Christian faith.

2. The second attitude: openness to being surprised by God. Anyone who is a man or a woman of hope – the great hope which faith gives us – knows that even in the midst of difficulties God acts and he surprises us. The history of this Shrine is a good example: three fishermen, after a day of catching no fish, found something unexpected in the waters of the Parnaíba River: an image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Whoever would have thought that the site of a fruitless fishing expedition would become the place where all Brazilians can feel that they are children of one Mother? God always surprises us, like the new wine in the Gospel we have just heard. God always saves the best for us. But he asks us to let ourselves be surprised by his love, to accept his surprises. Let us trust God! Cut off from him, the wine of joy, the wine of hope, runs out. If we draw near to him, if we stay with him, what seems to be cold water, difficulty, sin, is changed into the new wine of friendship with him.

3. The third attitude: living in joy. Dear friends, if we walk in hope, allowing ourselves to be surprised by the new wine which Jesus offers us, we have joy in our hearts and we cannot fail to be witnesses of this joy. Christians are joyful, they are never gloomy. God is at our side. We have a Mother who always intercedes for the life of her children, for us, as Queen Esther did in the first reading (cf Est 5:3). Jesus has shown us that the face of God is that of a loving Father. Sin and death have been defeated. Christians cannot be pessimists! They do not look like someone in constant mourning. If we are truly in love with Christ and if we sense how much he loves us, our heart will “light up” with a joy that spreads to everyone around us. As Benedict XVI said here, in this Shrine: “the disciple knows that without Christ, there is no light, no hope, no love, no future” (Inaugural Address, Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, Aparecida, 13 May 2007, 3).

Dear friends, we have come to knock at the door of Mary’s house. She has opened it for us, she has let us in and she shows us her Son. Now she asks us to “do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Yes, Mother, we are committed to doing whatever Jesus tells us! And we will do it with hope, trusting in God’s surprises and full of joy. Amen.


Pope Francis       08.11.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta        Luke 16:1-8


The Lord speaks to us again about the spirit of the world, about worldliness: how this worldliness works and how perilous it is. In his prayer after the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, Jesus besought the Father not to allow his disciples to fall into worldliness. Worldliness is the enemy, and the devil derives great pleasure” in seeing us live according to its ways.
Some of you might say: 'But this man only did what everyone does!'. No, not everyone! Some company administrators, public administrators, government administrators … but perhaps there are not many. It's an attitude of taking short cuts, of taking the easy road to earn a living.
The master praises the dishonest steward in the Gospel. He is praising bribery! The habit of giving bribes is a worldly and very sinful habit … God commanded us to bring home bread through honest work. This steward was giving dirty bread to his children to eat. And his children, who perhaps were educated in expensive universities and were raised in very cultured circles, were fed dirt by their father. For in bringing home unclean bread, their father lost his dignity. And this is a grave sin. It might start with a small bribe, but it is like a drug.
In fact, that it is such a serious sin “because it is so against our dignity”. That dignity by which we are united through our work. Not through bribes. Not through this addiction to worldly cleverness. When read in the papers or hear someone on the news speak about
corruption, perhaps we think that corruption is just a word. This is corruption: not earning our daily bread with dignity.
However, there is another road. It is the path of “Christian cleverness”. This path, allows us to be cunning but not according to the spirit of the world. Jesus himself said it: be wise as serpents, innocent as doves. Uniting these two realities is a grace and a gift of the Holy Spirit. This Christian cleverness is a gift; it is a grace that the Lord gives to us. But we need to ask for it.
Perhaps today, it would be good for all of us to pray for the many children who receive dirty bread from their parents, since they too are hungry; they are hungry for dignity. Ask the Lord to change the hearts of those who are devoted to the goddess of bribery in order that they might understand that dignity comes from noble work, from honest work, from daily work, and not from the easy road which in the end strips you of everything. For when they face death, these poor people who lose their dignity through the practice of bribery do not take with them the money they earned; they only take their lack of dignity. Let us pray for them.


Pope Francis     11.10.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta     Luke 11: 15-26

There are priests who, upon reading this passage and other similar Gospel passages, say: 'Jesus healed a person from a psychological illness'. Of course, it is true that in those times it was possible to confuse epilepsy with demonic possession, however it is also true that the devil existed. And we do not have the right to oversimplify things by getting rid of them as if we were dealing with one who is psychologically ill and not with someone who is possessed. Jesus, came to destroy the work of the devil in order to free us from his slavery.

Returning to the Gospel, Jesus offers us several criteria to help us understand the devil's presence and respond to it. The first criteria the gospel passage offers is that we cannot obtain the victory of Jesus over evil and the devil by halves. “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters”. We cannot continued to believe it is an exaggeration to say: “either you are with Jesus or against Jesus”. On this point, there is no shadow of a doubt. A battle exists, a battle in which the eternal salvation of us all is at stake. And there are not alternatives, even if at times we hear about “pastoral proposals” that seem more accommodating. “No! Either you are with Jesus, or you are against him. This is how it is, and this is one of the criteria.

A final guide is watchfulness. We must always be vigilant against the deception and seduction of the evil one. “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace”. We can ask ourselves: Do I keep watch over myself? Do I guard my heart? My feelings? My thoughts? Do I guard the treasure of grace? Do I protect the Holy Spirit's presence within me? If we do not protect it, one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armour in which he trusted, and divides his spoil.

These, then, are the criteria for responding to the challenges posed by the devil's presence in the world: the assurance that “Jesus battles against the devil”; “he who is not with Jesus is against Jesus”; and “watchfulness”. We need to keep in mind, that “the demon is shrewd: he is never cast out forever, that will only be so on the last day”. Because “when the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says: 'I will return to my house from which I came'. And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil that himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first”.

His strategy is this, you become a Christian, go forward in your faith, and I will leave you alone; I will leave you in peace. But then, once you have grown accustomed to it and you are not so vigilant and you feel secure, I will return. Today's Gospel begins with the demon being cast out and ends with the demon coming back. St Peter said he is like a roaring lion prowling around us”. And this is not a lie, “it is the Word of the Lord”.

“Please, let's not do business with the devil. The devil's presence is on the first page of the Bible and it also ends with the devil's presence, with God's victory over the devil”. Demons are always returning with their temptations, “we shouldn't be naive”.

Let us ask the Lord, for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to battle for our salvation, he has conquered the devil




This is what Jesus’ life was like: he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons” (Mk 1:39). Jesus who preaches and Jesus who heals. The whole day was like this:
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preaching to the people, teaching the Law, teaching the Gospel. And the people look for Him to listen to Him and also because He heals the sick.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.... And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mk 1:32, 34).

And we are before Jesus in this celebration: Jesus is the One who presides at this celebration. We are priests in the name of Jesus, but He is the President, He is the true Priest, who offers the sacrifice to the Father. We could ask ourselves whether we let Jesus preach to us. Each one of us: “Do I let Jesus preach to me, or I know know all? Do I listen to Jesus or do I prefer to listen to something else, perhaps people’s gossip, or stories...”. Listening to Jesus.

Listening to Jesus’ preaching. “How can I do this, Father? On which TV channel does Jesus speak?”. He speaks to you in the Gospel! And this is an attitude that we still do not have: to go to seek the word of Jesus in the Gospel. To always carry a Gospel with us, a small one, or to have one at our fingertips. Five minutes, 10 minutes.

When I am travelling or when I have to wait..., I take the Gospel from my pocket, or from my bag and I read something; or at home. And Jesus speaks to me, Jesus preaches to me there. It is the Word of Jesus. And we have to get accustomed to this: to hear the Word of Jesus, to listen to the Word of Jesus in the Gospel. To read a passage, think a bit about what it says, what it is saying to me. If I don’t feel it is speaking to me, I move to another.

But to have this daily contact with the Gospel, to pray with the Gospel; because this way Jesus preaches to me, He says with the Gospel what He wants to tell me. I know people who always carry it and when they have a little time they open it, and this way they always find the right word for the moment they are living in. This is the first thing I wanted to say to you: let the Lord preach to you. Listen to the Lord.

And Jesus heals: let yourselves be healed by Jesus.

We all have wounds, everyone: spiritual wounds, sins, hostility, jealousy; perhaps we don’t say hello to someone: “Ah, he did this to me, I won’t acknowledge him anymore”. But this needs to be healed!

“How do I do it?”. Pray and ask that Jesus heal it”.

It’s sad in a family when siblings don’t speak to each other for a small matter; something stupid*1,  because the devil takes a small matter, something stupid and makes a world of it. Then hostilities go on, and multiply for many years, and that family is destroyed. Parents suffer because their children don’t speak to each other, or one son’s wife doesn’t speak to the other, and thus, with jealousy, envy.... The devil sows this. The devil is the "father of hate", the "father of lies" who seeks disunity. But God wants unity. If in your heart you feel jealousy, this is the beginning of war. Jealousies are not of God. *1

And the only One who casts out demons is Jesus. The only One who heals these matters is Jesus.

For this reason I say to each one of you: let yourself be healed by Jesus. Each one knows where his wounds are. Each one of us has them; we don’t have only one: two, three, four, 20. Each one knows! May Jesus heal those wounds. But for this I must open my heart, in order that He may come. How do I open my heart? By praying. “But Lord, I can’t with those people over there. I hate them. They did this, this and this...”. “Heal this wound, Lord”. If we ask Jesus for this grace, He will do it. Let yourself be healed by Jesus. Let Jesus heal you. Let Jesus preach to you and let Him heal you. This way I can even preach to others, to teach the words of Jesus, because I let Him preach to me; and I can also help heal many wounds, the many wounds that there are. But first I have to do it: let Him preach to me and heal me.

When the bishop comes to make a visit to the parishes, we do many things. We can also make a nice proposal, a small one: the proposal to read a passage of the Gospel every day, a short passage, in order to let Jesus preach to me. And the other proposal: to pray that I let myself be healed of the wounds I have. Agreed? Shall we sign? Okay? Let’s do it, because this will be good for everyone. Thank you.

*1  Vatican Radio 02.09.15



Pope Francis    14.02.16   Holy Mass, Study Centre of Ecatepec, Mexico   Luke 4: 1-13
Pope Francis 14.02.16 Mexico

Last Wednesday we began the liturgical season of Lent, during which the Church invites us to prepare ourselves to celebrate the great feast of Easter. This is a special time for recalling the gift of our baptism, when we became children of God. The Church invites us to renew the gift she has given us, not to let this gift lie dormant as if it were something from the past or locked away in a “memory chest”. Lent is a good time to recover the joy and hope that make us feel like beloved sons and daughters of the Father. The Father who waits for us in order to cast off our garments of exhaustion, of apathy, of mistrust, and so clothe us with the dignity which only a true father or mother knows how to give their children, with the garments born of tenderness and love.

Our Father, He is the Father of a great family; he is our Father. He knows that he has a unique love, but he does not know how to bear or raise an “only child”. He is the God of the home, of brotherhood, of bread broken and shared. He is the God who is “Our Father”, not “my father” or “your stepfather”.

God’s dream makes its home and lives in each one of us so that at every Easter, in every Eucharist we celebrate, we may be the children of God. It is a dream which so many of our brothers and sisters have had through history. A dream witnessed to by the blood of so many martyrs, both from long ago and from now.

Lent is a time of conversion, of daily experiencing in our lives how this dream is continually threatened by
the father of lies — and we hear in the Gospel how he acted towards Jesus — by the one who tries to separate us, making a divided and confrontational family; a society which is divided and at loggerheads, a society of the few, and for the few. How often we experience in our own lives, or in our own families, among our friends or neighbours, the pain which arises when the dignity we carry within is not recognized. How many times have we had to cry and regret on realizing that we have not acknowledged this dignity in others. How often — and it pains me to say it — have we been blind and impervious in failing to recognize our own and others’ dignity.

Lent is a time for reconsidering our feelings, for letting our eyes be opened to the frequent injustices which stand in direct opposition to the dream and the plan of God. It is a time to unmask three great
temptations that wear down and fracture the image which God wanted to form in us: There are three temptations of Christ... three temptations for the Christian, which seek to destroy what we have been called to be; three temptations which try to corrode us and tear us down.

First, wealth: seizing hold of goods destined for all, and using them only for “my own people”. That is, taking “bread” based on the toil of others, or even at the expense of their very lives. That wealth which tastes of pain, bitterness and suffering. That is the bread that a corrupt family or society gives its own children.

The second temptation, vanity: the pursuit of prestige based on continuous, relentless exclusion of those who “are not like me”. The futile chasing of those five minutes of fame which do not forgive the “reputation” of others. “Making firewood from a felled tree” gradually gives way to the third temptation, the worst. It is that of pride, or rather, putting oneself on a higher level than one truly is on, feeling that one does not share the life of “mere mortals”, and yet being one who prays every day: “I thank you Lord that you have not made me like those others...”.

The three temptations of Christ.... Three temptations which the Christian is faced with daily. Three temptations which seek to corrode, destroy and extinguish the joy and freshness of the Gospel. Three temptations which lock us into a cycle of destruction and sin.

It is worth asking ourselves:

To what degree are we aware of these temptations in our lives, in our very selves?

How much have we become accustomed to a lifestyle where we think that our source and life force lies only in wealth?

To what point do we feel that caring about others, our concern and work for bread, for the good name and dignity of others, are wellsprings of happiness and hope?

We have chosen Jesus, not the evil one. If we remember what we heard in the Gospel, Jesus does not reply to the devil with any of his own words, but rather he the words of God, the words of scripture. Because brothers and sisters, and let us be clear about this, we cannot dialogue with the devil, we cannot do this because he will always win. Only the power of God’s word can overcome him. We have opted for Jesus and not for the devil; we want to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, even though we know that this is not easy. We know what it means to be seduced by money, fame and power. For this reason, the Church gives us the gift of this Lenten season, invites us to conversion, offering but one certainty: he is waiting for us and wants to heal our hearts of all that tears us down. He is the God who has a name: Mercy. His name is our wealth, his name is what makes us famous, his name is our power and in his name we say once more with the Psalm: “You are my God and in you I trust”. Will you repeat it together? Three times: “You are my God and in you I trust”. “Your are my God and in you I trust”.

In this Eucharist, may the Holy Spirit renew in us the certainty that his name is Mercy, and may he let us experience each day that “the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus...”, knowing that “with Christ and in Christ joy is constantly born anew” (cf.
Evangelii Gaudium, 1).




Pope Francis   18.09.16   Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome    25th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C    Luke 16: 1-13

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today, Jesus invites us to reflect on two opposing ways of
life: the way of the world and that of the Gospel — the worldly spirit is not the spirit of Jesus — and He does so by recounting the parable of the unfaithful and corrupt steward, who is praised by Jesus, despite his dishonesty (cf. Lk 16:1-13). We must point out immediately that this administrator is not presented as a model to follow, but as an example of deceitfulness. This man is accused of mismanaging his master’s affairs, and before being removed, astutely he tries to ingratiate himself with the debtors, condoning part of their debt so as to ensure himself a future. Commenting on this behaviour, Jesus observes: “For the sons of this world are wiser in their own generation than the sons of light” (v. 8).

We are called to respond to this worldly astuteness with Christian astuteness, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit. This is a matter of departing from the worldly spirit and values, which the
devil really favours, in order to live according to the Gospel. How is worldliness manifested? Worldliness is manifested by attitudes of corruption, deception, subjugation, and it constitutes the most ill-chosen road, the road of sin, because one leads you to the other! It’s like a chain, even if — it’s true — it is generally the easiest road to travel. Instead, the spirit of the Gospel requires a serious lifestyle — serious but joyful, full of joy! — serious and challenging, marked by honesty, fairness, respect for others and their dignity, and a sense of duty. And this is Christian astuteness!

The
journey of life necessarily involves a choice between two roads: between honesty and dishonesty, between fidelity and infidelity, between selfishness and altruism, between good and evil. You can not waver between one and the other, because they move on different and conflicting forms of logic. The prophet Elijah said to the people of Israel that went on these two roads: “You are limping with both feet!” (cf. 1 Kings 18:21). It’s a fine image. It is important to decide which direction to take and then, once you have chosen the right one, to walk it with enthusiasm and determination, trusting in God’s grace and the support of His Spirit. The conclusion of the Gospel passage is powerful and categorical: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Lk 16:13).

With this teaching, Jesus today urges us to make a clear choice between Him and the worldly spirit, between the logic of corruption, of the abuse of power and greed, and that of righteousness, meekness and sharing. Some people conduct themselves with
corruption as they do with drugs: they think they can use it and stop when they want. It starts out small: a tip here, a bribe over there.... And between this and that, one’s freedom is slowly lost. Corruption is also habit-forming, and generates poverty, exploitation, and suffering. How many victims there are in the world today! How many victims of this widespread corruption. But when we try to follow the Gospel logic of integrity, clarity in intentions and in behaviour, of fraternity, we become artisans of justice and we open horizons of hope for humanity. In gratuitousness and by giving of ourselves to our brothers and sisters, we serve the right master: God.

May the Virgin Mary help us to choose at every opportunity and at all costs, the right way, even finding the courage to go against the tide, in order to follow Jesus and his Gospel.




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What is it within ourselves that makes us mock and belittle the weakest among us? Many Biblical stories tell of a powerful person humiliating someone weaker and more vulnerable. The devil is behind this type of attitude, because there is no compassion in him.

1 Samuel 1: 1-8: Elkanah, had two wives: Hannah, who was barren, and Peninnah, who had borne him several children. Instead of consoling Hannah, Peninnah scorned and humiliated her on account of her infertility.

Other Biblical stories also tell of scorn towards the weak, as does the story of Abraham’s wives, Hagar and Sarah. The same attitude of scorn and
contempt occurs between men. Goliath ridiculed David. Both Job's and Tobias’ wives belittled their suffering husbands

I ask myself: What is within these people? What is it within ourselves that pushes us to
mock and mistreat others weaker than ourselves? It is understandable when a person resents someone stronger than them, perhaps as a result of envy… but towards the weak? What makes us do that? It is something habitual, as if I needed to ridicule another person in order to feel confident. As if it were a necessity…”

Even among children this happens. When I was young, there was a woman with a mental illness, Angelina, who lived in his neighbourhood. She would walk the streets all day, and people would give her food to eat and clothes. Local children, however, would make fun of her. They would say: “Let’s find Angelina and have some fun”.

How much
evil there is, even in children, that they treat the weak in this way!”

And today we see it constantly in our schools; the phenomenon of
bullying, attacking the weak, because you’re fat or foreign, or because you’re black… Attacking and attacking… Children and young people, too. It wasn’t just Peninnah, Hagar, or the wives of Tobias and Job: even children. This means there is something within us that makes us act aggressively toward the weak.

The desire to destroy another person is the work of
Satan .

Psychologists would probably give another explanation of this desire to destroy another because they are weak, but, I believe it is a consequence of Original Sin. This is the work of Satan. Satan, has no compassion.

And so, when we already have a good desire to do a good act, like an act of charity, we say ‘It’s the Holy Spirit inspiring me to do this’. And when we realize we harbour within ourselves the desire to attack someone because they are weak, we have no doubt: It is the devil. Because attacking the weak is the work of Satan.

Finally, let us ask the Lord to give us the grace of God’s compassion. He is the One who has compassion on us and helps us to move forward.



Pope Francis         08.05.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta          John 16: 5-11
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John’s Gospel 16: 11 “the ruler of this world has been condemned." Even though the devil is defeated and dying he has a great power and capacity to seduce. He promises many things, bringing us beautifully packed gifts, without revealing their contents.

The devil is like a dying crocodile, who hunters advise not to approach because it can still strike you dead with its tail. Hence the devil is very dangerous, his proposals are all lies and we foolishly believe him.

The devil is the father of lies. He speaks well, he can sing in order to deceive and he is a loser who moves about like a winner. His light dazzles like the fireworks but does not last. Instead the light of the Lord is "gentle and permanent".

The devil knows how to seduce us in our vanity and curiosity and we buy everything, falling into temptation. Knowing that a thought, a desire or move is dangerous and we still go there, it is like approaching the devil who is like a chained angry dog that can still bite.

Unlike Eve who thought herself a “great theologian” and fell, we must never dialogue with the devil because he wins, he is more intelligent than us. On the contrary, Jesus in the desert responds to the devil with the Word of God, hunts down demons, sometimes asking his name but doesn't dialogue.

Jesus advised; watch, do penance and fast. We too must do so but never enter into dialogue with the devil. And in moments of temptation we must approach the mother, like frightened children do. According to the Russian mystics, in times of spiritual upheavals, take refuge under the mantle of the great Mother of God.


Pope Francis          01.06.18  Holy Mass Santa Marta       1 Peter 4: 7-13 
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Persecution is rather like the ‘air’ that Christians breathe even today. Because even today there are many martyrs, many people who are persecuted for their love of Christ. There are many countries where Christians have no rights. If you wear a cross, you go to jail. And there are people in jail. There are people condemned to death today simply because they are Christians. The number of people killed is higher than the number of early martyrs. It’s higher! But this doesn’t make news. Television newscasts and newspapers don’t cover these things. Meanwhile Christians are being persecuted.

The Devil is behind every persecution, both of Christians and all human beings. The Devil tries to destroy the presence of Christ in Christians, and the image of God in men and women. He tried doing this from the very beginning, as we read in the Book of Genesis: he tried to destroy that harmony that the Lord created between man and woman, the harmony that comes from being made in the image and likeness of God. And he succeeded. He managed to do it by using deception, seduction…the weapons he uses. He always does this. But there is a powerful ruthlessness against men and women today: otherwise how to explain this growing wave of destruction towards men and women, and all that is human”.

H
unger is an injustice that destroys men and women because they have nothing to eat, even if there is a lot food available in the world. Human exploitation; different forms of slavery; recently I saw a film shot inside a prison where migrants are locked up and tortured to turn them into slaves. This is still happening 70 years after the Declaration of Human Rights. Cultural colonization. This is exactly what the Devil wants, to destroy human dignity – and that is why the Devil is behind all forms of persecution.

Wars can be considered a kind of instrument to destroy people, made in the image of God. But so are the people who make war, who plan war in order to exercise power over others. There are people who promote the arms industry to destroy humanity, to destroy the image of man and woman, physically morally, and culturally… Even if they are not Christians, the Devil persecutes them because they are the image of God. We must not be ingenuous. In the world today, all humans, and not only Christians are being persecuted, because the Father of all persecutions cannot bare that they are the image and likeness of God. So he attacks and destroys that image. It isn’t easy to understand this. We have to pray a lot if we want to understand it. …


Pope Francis        14.06.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta       Matthew 5: 20-26
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Jesus uses human wisdom in reasoning with the disciples. In order to drive home his teaching regarding loving relationships, the Lord uses an every-day example…the problem of insults.

The list of insults Jesus cites are ancient. Jesus tells us that insults open up a path that ends in murder. We disqualify others through insults. They rob people of their respectability. By insulting people we silence them, we take away their voice.

Insults are so dangerous because they lead to
envy, which is how the devil entered the world according to the Book of Wisdom. When another person does something I don’t like … or when someone threatens me, envy pushes me to insult them.

Have I insulted anyone today? When do I use insults? When do I close my heart to another with an insult? Can I see the bitter root of envy there that pushes me to desire the destruction of another in order to avoid competition, rivalry, that type of thing. It’s not easy. But let’s think how beautiful it would be if we never insulted others. May the Lord grant us this grace.

Jesus wants us to stop this dynamic. When you go to Mass and you are aware that one of your brothers has something against you, go and reconcile yourself… Jesus is that radical. Reconciliation is not the same as good manners. No, it’s a radical attitude, one that tries to respect the dignity of others as well as my own. From insult to reconciliation, from envy to friendship—this is the example that Jesus gives us today.



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We must not be afraid to contemplate the cross as a moment of defeat, of failure. When Paul reflects on the mystery of Jesus Christ, he says some powerful things. He tells us that Jesus emptied himself, annihilated himself, was made sin to the end and took all our sins upon himself, all the sins of the world: he was a ‘rag’, a condemned man. Paul was not afraid to show this defeat and even this can enlighten our moments of darkness, our moments of defeat. But the cross is also a sign of victory for us Christians.

The Book of Numbers tells of the moment during the Exodus when the people who complained “were punished by serpents”. This, refers to the ancient serpent,
Satan, the “Great Accuser”. But, the Lord told Moses that the serpent that brought death would be raised and would bring salvation. This  is a prophecy. In fact, having been made sin, Jesus defeated the author of sin, he defeated the serpent. And Satan, was so happy on Good Friday that he did not notice the great trap of history in which he was to fall.

As the Fathers of the Church say, Satan saw Jesus in such a bad state, and like a hungry fish that goes after the bait attached to the hook, he swallowed Him. But in that moment, he also swallowed His divinity because that was the bait attached to the hook. At that moment,  Satan was destroyed forever. He has no strength. In that moment the cross became a sign of victory.

Our victory is the cross of Jesus, victory over our enemy, the ancient serpent, the Great Accuser. We have been saved by the cross, by the fact that Jesus chose to sink to the very lowest point, but with the power of divinity.

Jesus said to Nicodemus: When I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself. Jesus was lifted up and Satan was destroyed. We must be attracted to the cross of Jesus: we must look at it because it gives us the strength to go forward. And the ancient serpent that was destroyed still barks, still threatens but, as the Fathers of the Church say, he is a chained dog: do not approach him and he will not bite you; but if you try to caress him because you attracted to him as if he were a puppy, prepare yourself, he will destroy you.

Our life goes on, with Christ victorious and risen, and who sends us the Holy Spirit; but also with that chained dog,
the devil, whom I must not draw close to because he will bite me.

The cross teaches us that in life there is failure and victory. We must be capable of tolerating defeat, of bearing our failures patiently, even those of our sins because He paid for us. We must tolerate them in Him, asking forgiveness in Him, but never allowing ourselves to be seduced by this chained dog. It will be good if today, when we go home, we would take 5, 10, 15 minutes in front of the crucifix, either the one we have in our house or on the rosary: look at it, it is our sign of defeat, it provokes persecutions, it destroys us; it is also our sign of victory because it is where God was victorious.



Pope Francis      12.10.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta          Luke 11: 15-26
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When the devil takes possession of a person’s heart, he makes it his home not wanting to leave, and tries to ruin the person and harm him even physically.

The struggle between
good and evil in us human beings is the true struggle between the first struggle between God and the ancient serpent, between Jesus and the devil

The devil’s purpose and vocation is "to destroy the work of God". When the devil cannot destroy “face to face” because God is a greater force that defends the person, then he, cunning and "smarter than a fox", seeks ways to regain possession of that person.

The
demon returns after being cast out, he very politely says he has returned when in fact he was thrown out. Finding the home “swept and adorned", he brings along with him several other spirits worse than him, and they enter and make it their residence, and the condition of that person becomes worse than before.

He make us feel comfortable that we are Christians, Catholics who go to Mass and pray. We do have our defects, our sins, but everything seems to be in order. Acting like a polite person the demon goes about to find a weak point and knocks at the door, saying, "Excuse me? May I come in?" and rings the bell. These demons are worse than the first ones, because you don't realize they are at home. They are the worldly spirit, the spirit of the world.

The devil either destroys directly with vices, wars or injustices or he does so politely and diplomatically the way Jesus describes. Working silently, they make friends and persuade you on the road to mediocrity, making you "lukewarm" with
worldliness.

Christians watch out against falling into this spiritual mediocrity, into this "spirit of the world", which "corrupts us from within". I am more afraid of these demons than the first.

When someone asks for an
exorcist for a person possessed by a demon, I am not that worried, but I am worried when people open their doors to polite demons who persuade them from within as friends.

I often ask myself whether it is better to have a clear sin or to live in the spirit of the world.



Pope Francis          26.10.18    Holy Mass  Santa Marta            Ephesians 4: 1-6       Luke 12: 54-59
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St. Paul from the solitude of his imprisonment was writing to the Ephesians a true "hymn to unity", recalling the "dignity of vocation". Paul’s solitude would accompany him until his death in Rome, because Christians were “too busy” in their "internal struggles". And before Paul, Jesus Himself “asked for the grace of unity from the Father for all of us."

Yet, today we are "used to breathing the air of
conflict". Every day, on the TV and in newspapers, we hear about conflicts and wars "one after the other", "without peace, without unity”. Agreements made to stop conflicts are ignored, thus the arms race and preparation for war and destruction go ahead.

Even
world institutions created with the best of intentions for peace and unity, fail to come to an agreement because of a veto here and an interest there ... While they are struggling to arrive at peace agreements, children have no food, no school, no education and hospitals because the war has destroyed everything.

There is a tendency to destruction, war and
disunity in us. It is the tendency that the devil, the enemy and destroyer of humanity sows in our hearts. The Apostle teaches us that the journey of unity is, so to say, clad or “armoured' with the bond of peace. Peace, he said, leads to unity.

We who are used to
insulting and shouting at each other, need to make peace and unity among us with gentleness and patience

Christians open your hearts and make peace in the world taking the path of the “three little things” - "
humility, gentleness and patience". Paul's advice is “bear with one another in love". It’s not easy as there is always a judgement, a condemnation which leads to separation and distances

When a
rift is created between members of the family, the devil is happy with the start of war . The advice is then to bear with one another because we always have an excuse to be annoyed and impatient because we are all sinners with defects. St. Paul, inspired by Jesus at the Last Supper who urged for “one body and one spirit”, thus urges us to “preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace".

The next step is to see the horizon of peace with God, just as Jesus made us see the horizon of peace with prayer: “Father, may they be one, as You and I are one'. In today's Gospel of Luke Jesus advises us to strike an
agreement with our adversary along the way. It’s good advice, because "it is not difficult to come to an agreement at the beginning of a conflict.

The advice of Jesus is to
settle the matter and make peace at the beginning, which calls for humility, gentleness and patience. One can build peace throughout the world with these little things, which are the attitudes of Jesus who is humble, meek and forgives everything.

Today we, the world, our families and our society need peace. I invite Christians to start putting into practice humility, gentleness and patience saying this is the path to making peace and consolidating unity.



Pope Francis      10.03.19        Angelus, St Peter's Square          Luke 4: 1-13
Pope Francis  10.03.19   Temptaions

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Gospel passage for this first Sunday of Lent (cf. Lk 4:1-13) recounts the experience of the temptation of Jesus in the desert. After fasting for 40 days, Jesus is tempted three times by the devil. First he invites Him to change stone into bread (v. 3); then, from above, he shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and the prospect of becoming a powerful and glorious messiah (vv. 5-6); lastly he takes Him to the pinnacle of the temple of Jerusalem and invites Him to throw himself down, so as to manifest His divine power in a spectacular way (vv. 9-11). The three temptations point to three paths that the world always offers, promising great success, three paths to mislead us: greed for possession — to have, have, have —, human vainglory and the exploitation of God. These are three paths that will lead us to ruin.

The first, the path of greed for possession. This is always the devil’s insidious logic He begins from the natural and legitimate need for nourishment, life, fulfilment, happiness, in order to encourage us to believe that all this is possible without God, or rather, even despite Him. But Jesus countervails, stating: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’’’ (v. 4). Recalling the long journey of the chosen people through the desert, Jesus affirms his desire to fully entrust himself to the providence of the Father, who always takes care of his children.

The second temptation: the path of human vainglory. The devil says: “If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours” (v. 7). One can lose all personal dignity if one allows oneself to be corrupted by the idols of
money, success and power, in order to achieve one’s own self-affirmation. And one tastes the euphoria of a fleeting joy. And this also leads us to be ‘peacocks’, to vanity, but this vanishes. For this reason Jesus responds: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (v. 8).

And then the third temptation: exploiting God to
one’s own advantage. In response to the devil — who, citing Scripture, invites Him to seek a conspicuous miracle from God — Jesus again opposes with the firm decision to remain humble, to remain confident before the Father: “It is said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (v. 12). Thus, he rejects perhaps the most subtle temptation: that of wanting to ‘pull God to our side’, asking him for graces which in reality serve and will serve to satisfy our pride.

These are the paths that are set before us, with the illusion that in this way one can obtain success and
happiness. But in reality, they are completely extraneous to God’s mode of action; rather, in fact they distance us from God, because they are the works of Satan. Jesus, personally facing these trials, overcomes temptation three times in order to fully adhere to the Father’s plan. And he reveals the remedies to us: interior life, faith in God, the certainty of his love — the certainty that God loves us, that he is Father, and with this certainty we will overcome every temptation.

But there is one thing to which I would like to draw your attention, something interesting. In responding to the tempter, Jesus does not enter a discussion, but responds to the three challenges with only the Word of God. This teaches us that one does not dialogue with the devil; one must not discuss, one only responds to him with the Word of God.

Therefore, let us benefit from Lent as a privileged time to purify ourselves, to feel God’s comforting presence in our life.

May the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, icon of faithfulness to God, sustain us in our journey, helping us to always reject evil and welcome good.




Pope Francis   15.10.19  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)      Luke 11: 37-41
Pope Francis  15.10.19  Hypocrisy

Jesus does not tolerate hypocrisy. We must be cured of hypocrisy and the medicine is knowing how to point the finger at ourselves before God, since whoever is unable to do so is not a good Christian.

In the Gospel reading, Luke 11: 37-41, Jesus is invited to lunch by a Pharisee and is highly criticised by the master of the house because he does not perform ritual ablution before sitting at the table to eat.

This behaviour is not tolerated by the Lord: hypocrisy. The Pharisees invited Jesus to lunch to judge him, not to befriend him. This is exactly what hypocrisy is, appearing one way but acting in another. It is to think secretly different from what the appearance is.

Jesus can't stand hypocrisy. And he often calls hypocritical Pharisees "whitened sepulchres". This is not an insult to Jesus, it is the truth. From the outside you are perfect, indeed starched, but from the inside you are something else. A hypocritical attitude comes from the great liar,
the devil. The devil is the great hypocrite, all other hypocrites are his heirs.

Hypocrisy is the language of the devil, it is the language of evil that enters our hearts and is sown by the devil. You can't live with hypocritical people. Jesus, likes to expose hypocrites. He knows that it will be precisely this hypocritical attitude that will lead to his death, because the hypocrite does not think whether he uses lawful means or not, he uses slander? "Let's make slander"; false witness. We are looking for false witness.

Some may object that there is no hypocrisy like this here. But to think that is a mistake. Hypocritical language; I won't say that it's normal, but it's common, it's everyday. The appearance of being one way but being another. An example of this, is in the struggle for power. Jealousy makes you act in a certain way, with poison within, poison to kill, because hypocrisy always kills, always, sooner or later it kills.

It is necessary to heal ourselves from this attitude. But what is the medicine. The answer is to say the truth before God. It is to accuse oneself. We must learn to accuse ourselves: "I have done this, I think so, ill-mannered..I have envy, I would like to destroy that..." what is inside us and tell ourselves before God. This is a spiritual exercise that is not common, it is not usual, but we must try to do it: accuse ourselves, see ourselves in sin, hypocrisy, in the wickedness that is in our hearts. Because the devil sows
evil and say to the Lord: "But look Lord, this is me!", and say it humbly.

We learn to accuse ourselves, something perhaps
too difficult but it is so: a Christian who does not know how to accuse themselves is not a good Christian and risks falling into hypocrisy.

In Peter’s prayer he tells the Lord "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord". Let us learn to accuse ourselves, "we, ourselves".




Pope Francis   12.11.19   Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Memorial of St Josaphat       Wisdom 2:23 - 3:9

Pope Francis  12.11.19 Santa Marta - the devil

The devil exists, sowing hatred and death throughout the world because he is envious that the Son of God became man.

In the First Reading from the Book of Wisdom (Wis 2:23 - 3:9), the first verse begins: "God created us in His own image". The same verse continues adding: "But through the devil’s envy, death entered the world".

The envy of that proud angel who refused to accept the incarnation led him to destroy humanity. That is how jealousy, envy, rivalry entered our hearts, while instead we could live in peace like brothers and sisters. This is where the struggle and the desire to destroy begins. "But Father, I don't destroy anyone". No? And what about your gossiping? When you talk badly about someone you destroy them. The Apostle James said: "The tongue is a fearsome weapon. it kills". Gossip kills. Slander kills. "But Father I have been baptized, I am a practising Christian, how can I be a murderer!" Because, we are fighting a war inside ourselves, and we have done so from the beginning. Cain and Abel were brothers, but the jealousy and the envy of the one destroyed the other. This is the way it is, just watch the evening news: wars, destruction, people dying of illnesses caused by wars.

The anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, leads us to recall the horrors of war, the Nazis, and those who tortured anyone who was not of 'pure race'.

Behind all this there is someone who moves us to do these things. It's what we call temptation. When we go to confession, we say to the priest: "Father, I was tempted by this, that, and the other...". Someone touches your heart to lead you down the wrong road. Someone sows destruction and hatred in our hearts. Today we have to say it clearly, there are many who sow hatred in the world, who destroy.

Often I think that the news is a story of hatred and destruction, wars and terrorist attacks. So many children die of hunger and disease because they have no water, no education, or healthcare. Because the money needed for this goes to manufacturing weapons of destruction. This is what happens in the world, but also in my soul and in yours, because of the seed of the devil’s envy and hatred. And why is the devil envious?" He is envious of our human nature.

Do you know why? Because the Son of God became one of us. The devil cannot bare that, he can't tolerate it.

That is why he destroys, and that is the root of the devil’s envy, the root of our evils, our temptations, it is the root of wars, hunger, of all the calamities in the world. It is not the norm to destroy and sow hatred, not even in politics. But some people do it. Often one politician is tempted to sling mud at another, to destroy the other, using both lies and truth. This is not healthy and clean political rivalry for the good of the country. He prefers to use insults to destroy opponents. "I'm good, but does he look better than me?", he thinks, and then "Ill knock him down, with an insult".

I would like each of us to think about this today: why is so much hatred sown in the world today? In families that sometimes cannot be reconciled, in our neighbourhood, in the workplace, in politics... The devil is the sower of hatred: "Death entered the world through the devil’s envy". Some say: but Father, the devil does not exist, it is evil, such an ethereal evil... But God’s Word is clear. The devil got angry with Jesus. Read the Gospel: it’s clear, whether we have faith or not.

Let us pray to the Lord to make our hearts grow in faith in Jesus Christ, His Son, who assumed our human nature, to fight with our flesh and to be victorious in our flesh over the devil and evil. May this faith give us the strength not to play the game of the envious one, the great liar, the sower of hate.