Evil


Pope Francis   08.09.13  Angelus, St Peter's Square, Rome       23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C       Luke 14: 25-33

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning! In today’s Gospel Jesus insists on the conditions for being his disciples: preferring nothing to the love of Christ, carrying one’s cross and following him. Many people in fact drew near to Jesus, they wanted to be included among his followers; and this would happen especially after some miraculous sign which accredited him as the Messiah, the King of Israel. However Jesus did not want to disappoint anyone. He knew well what awaited him in Jerusalem and which path the Father was asking him to take: it was the Way of the Cross, the way of sacrificing himself for the forgiveness of our sins. Following Jesus does not mean taking part in a triumphal procession! It means sharing his merciful love, entering his great work of mercy for each and every man and for all men. The work of Jesus is, precisely, a work of mercy, a work of forgiveness and of love! Jesus is so full of mercy! And this universal pardon, this mercy, passes through the Cross. Jesus, however, does not want to do this work alone: he wants to involve us too in the mission that the Father entrusted to him. After the Resurrection he was to say to his disciples: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you”... if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven” (Jn 20:21-22). Jesus’ disciple renounces all his possessions because in Jesus he has found the greatest Good in which every other good receives its full value and meaning: family ties, other relationships, work, cultural and economic goods and so forth....
The Christian detaches him or herself from all things and rediscovers all things in the logic of the Gospel, the logic of love and of service.

To explain this requirement, Jesus uses two parables: that of the tower to be built and that of the king going to war. The latter says: “What king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace” (Lk 14:31-32). Jesus does not wish to address the topic of war here; it is only a parable. Yet at this moment in which we are praying intensely for peace, this word of the Lord touches us to the core, and essentially tells us: there is a more profound war that we must all fight! It is the firm and courageous decision to renounce
evil and its enticements and to choose the good, ready to pay in person: this is following Christ, this is what taking up our cross means! This profound war against evil! What is the use of waging war, so many wars, if you aren't capable of waging this profound war against evil? It is pointless! It doesn’t work.... Among other things this war against evil entails saying “no” to the fratricidal hatred and falsehood that are used; saying “no” to violence in all its forms; saying “no” to the proliferation of weapons and to the illegal arms trade. There is so much of it! So much of it! And the doubt always remains: is this war or that war — because wars are everywhere — really a war to solve problems or is it a commercial war for selling weapons in illegal trade? These are the enemies to fight, united and consistent, following no other interests than those of peace and of the common good.

Dear brothers and sisters, today we are also commemorating
the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, a Feast particularly dear to the Eastern Churches. And let all of us now send a beautiful greeting to all the brothers, sisters, bishops, monks and nuns of the Eastern Churches, both Orthodox and Catholic, a beautiful greeting! Jesus is the sun, Mary is the dawn that heralds his rising. Yesterday evening we kept vigil, entrusting to her intercession our prayers for peace in the world, especially in Syria and throughout the Middle East. Let us now invoke her as Queen of Peace. Queen of Peace pray for us! Queen of Peace pray for us!



   
Pope Francis       25.10.13 Holy Mass Santa Marta       Romans 7: 18-25

Yesterday Paul was proclaiming salvation in Jesus Christ through faith. But today he is telling his brothers in Rome about the battle he is waging within. I know that nothing good dwells within me, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells in me.
When I want to do the good, evil is right beside me. In fact, I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of the mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. We do not always have the courage to speaks about this battle as Paul speaks. We always seek to justify ourselves: 'But yes, we are all sinners' we say.

It is against this disposition that we must battle. Indeed, if we do not recognize this we cannot obtain God's forgiveness, because if being a sinner is only a word or a way of speaking, then we do not need God's forgiveness. But if it is a reality that enslaves us, then we truly need the interior freedom and strength of the Lord. Paul shows us the way out of this attitude: Confess your sin and your tendency to sin to the community, do not hide it. This is the disposition which the Church asks of all of us, which Jesus asks of all of us: humbly to confess our sins.

The Church in her wisdom points to the sacrament of confession. “Let us go to our brother, to our brother the priest, and let us make this interior confession: the same confession that Paul himself makes: 'I want the good, I would like to be better, but as you know, I sometimes experience this battle within, sometimes, there is this, that and the other …
Those who refuse to speak with a priest under the pretence that they confess directly to God. “It's easy. It's like confessing by email … God is there, far away; I say things and there is no face to face, there is not face to face encounter. But Paul confessed his weakness to his brothers face to face.

In the alleluia we said: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden the mysteries of the kingdom from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes. Little ones have a certain wisdom. When a child comes to make his confession, he never speaks in generalities. He says: 'Father, I did this, and I did this to my aunt, I did this to someone else, and to someone else I said this word', and they say the word. They are real, they possess the simplicity of truth. And we always tend to hide the reality of our weakness and poverty.

But if there is one thing that is beautiful, it is when we confess our sins in the presence of God just as they are. We always feel the grace of being ashamed. To feel ashamed before God is a grace. It is a grace to say: 'I am ashamed'. Let us think about St Peter after Jesus' miracle on the lake: “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinner”. He was ashamed of his sin in the presence of Jesus Christ. 

Going to confession, is “going to an encounter with the Lord who forgives us, who loves us. And our shame is what we offer him: 'Lord, I am a sinner, but I am not so bad, I am capable of feeling ashamed'.

Let us ask for the grace to live in the truth without hiding anything from the Lord and without hiding anything from ourselves.



Pope Francis       02.03.17    Holy Mass  Santa Marta        Deuteronomy 30: 15-20,      Matthew 4: 17,      Luke 9: 22-25

The “compass of a Christian is to follow Christ Crucified”: not a false, “disembodied and abstract” God, but the God who became flesh and brings unto himself “the wounds of our brothers”.

The word, the exhortation of the Church from the very beginning of Lent is ‘repent’, Matthew (4:17): “repent, says the Lord”.

So today the Liturgy of the Word makes us reflect on three realities that lie before us as conditions for this conversion: the reality of man — the reality of life; the reality of God; and the reality of the journey. These are realities of the human experience, all three, but which the Church, and we too, have before us for this conversion.

The first reality, therefore, is “the reality of man: you are faced with a choice”, Deuteronomy (30:15-20) : “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil”. We men are faced with this reality: either it is
good, or it is evil.... But if your heart turns away and if you do not listen and allow yourself to be drawn in to worshipping other gods”, you will walk the path of evil. And this, we perceive in our lives: we can always choose either good or evil; this is the reality of human freedom. God made us free; the choice is ours. But the Lord does not leave us on our own; he teaches us, admonishes us: ‘be careful, there is good and evil’. Worshipping God, fulfilling the commandments is the way of goodness; going the other way, the way of idols, false gods — so many false gods — they make a mess of life. And this is a reality: the reality of man is that we are all faced with good and evil.

Then, there is another reality, the second powerful reality: the reality of God. Yes, God is there, but how is God there? God made himself Christ: this is the reality and it was difficult for the disciples to understand this. Luke (9:22-25): Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised’. Thus God took up all of human reality, minus the sin: there is no God without Christ. A God ‘disembodied’, without Christ, is not a real God”. In fact, the reality of God is God-made-Christ for us, for our salvation, and when we distance ourselves from this, from this reality, and we distance ourselves from the Cross of Christ, from the truth of the Lord’s wounds, we also distance ourselves from God’s love, from his mercy, from salvation and we follow a distant ideological path of God: it is not God who came to us and who came close to save us and who died for us.

This, is the reality of God. God revealed in Christ: there is no God without Christ. I can think of a dialogue by a French writer of the last century, a conversation between an agnostic and a believer. The well-meaning agnostic asked the believer: ‘But how can I ... for me, the question is: how is it that Christ is God? I cannot understand this, how is it that Christ is God?’. And the believer said: ‘For me this is not a problem, the problem would be if God had not made himself Christ’.

Therefore, this is the reality of God: God-made-Christ; God-made-flesh; and this is the foundation of the works of mercy, because the wounds of our brothers are the wounds of Christ; they are the wounds of God, because God made himself Christ. We cannot experience Lent without this second reality: we must convert ourselves not to an abstract God, but to a concrete God who became Christ.

Here, then, is the reality of man: we are faced with good and evil — the reality of God — God-made-Christ — and the third human reality, the reality of
the journey. The question to ask then is, “‘how do we go, which road do we take?’”.  “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. Because,  the reality of the journey is that of Christ: following Christ, doing the will of the Father, as he did, by taking up the daily crosses and denying ourself in order to follow Christ. This means “not doing what I want, but what Jesus wants: following Jesus”. And Jesus says “that on this path we lose our life so as to regain it afterwards; it is a continuous loss of life, the loss of ‘doing what I want’, the loss of material comforts, of always being on the path of Jesus, who was in service to others, to the adoration of God: that is the just path.

These, are the three realities: the human reality — of man, of life, of man faced with good and evil; the reality of God — God who made himself Christ, and we cannot worship a God who is not Christ, because this is the reality. There is also the reality of the journey — the only sure way is to follow Christ Crucified, the scandal of the Cross. And these three human realities are a Christian’s compass, with these three road signs, which are realities, we will not take the wrong path. 

‘Repent,’ says the Lord; that is, take seriously these realities of the human experience: the reality of life, the reality of God and the reality of the journey.



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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      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       15.05.19    General Audience, St Peter's Square     Catechesis on the Our Father
 
Pope Francis 15.05.19 Talks about Evil
   
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

We have arrived at the seventh question of the "Our Father": "Deliver us from evil" (Mt 6, 13b).

With these words, the one who prays is not only asking to not be abandoned at the time of temptation, but also begging to be liberated from evil. The original Greek word is very powerful: it evokes the presence of the evil one who seeks to grasp us and to bite us (cf. 1 Pt 5.8) and from which we ask God for deliverance. The Apostle Peter also says that the devil, the devil, is raging around us like a lion, to devour us, and we ask God to deliver us.

With these two requests: "don't desert us" and "deliver us", emerges an essential characteristic of Christian prayer. Jesus teaches his friends to put the invocation of the father before all, even and especially at times when the devil makes his presence feel ominous. In fact, Christian prayer does not close our eyes to life. It is a filial prayer and not a childish prayer. It is not so infatuated with the fatherhood of God, that it forgets that man's journey is fraught with difficulties. If there was not this last verse of the "Our Father" How could sinners, the persecuted, the desperate, and the dying pray? The last petition is just the petition from us when we're at the limit, always.

There is evil in our lives, that is certain. The history books are a bleak catalog of how our existence in this world has often been an unsuccessful adventure. There is a mysterious evil, which is definitely not the work of God but penetrates throughout the folds of history. Silent as the serpent who carries the poison quietly. Sometime it seems take over: some days its presence seems even sharper than God's mercy. 

We who pray are not blind, and see clearly before our eyes this immense evil, that contradicts the very mystery of God. It is seen in nature, in history, even in our own heart. Because there is no one among us who can claim to be exempt from evil, or at least not to be tempted. We all know what evil is; We all know what temptation is; all of us have experienced at first hand, the temptation of sin. But it's the tempter that moves us and drives us to evil, informing us: "do this, think of this, it should be that way."

The last cry of "Our Father" is shouted against this evil "from the top of the roof", encompassing the most diverse experiences: the death of man, the suffering of the innocent, slavery, exploitation of others, the cry of innocent children. All these events are revolting to human hearts and become a voice in the last word of the prayer of Jesus.

It is precisely in the stories of the passion that some expressions of the "Our Father" find their most impressive echo. Jesus Says: "Abba! Father! All things are possible to you: remove this cup from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will "(Mc 14.36). Jesus experienced acute pain of evil in full. Not only death, but death on the cross. Not only solitude, but also contempt, humiliation. Not only the ill will, but also the cruelty, the fury against him. That's what man is: a being devoted to life, who dreams of love and goodness, but then  continually exposes himself and his fellow men to evil, to the point that we can be tempted to despair of man.

Dear brothers and sisters, so the "Our father" resembles a Symphony that demands to be fulfilled in each of us. Christians know how enthralling the power of evil is, and at the same time he experiences Jesus, who never succumbed to those enticements, who is both on our side and comes to our aid.

In this way the prayer of Jesus leaves us the most precious legacy: the presence of the Son of God who has delivered us from evil, struggling to convert us. In the final battle, Peter sheaths his sword, the repentant thief is assured of paradise, to all of the men who were around, unaware of the tragedy that was occurring, He offers a word of peace: "Father, forgive them, for they they know not what they do "(Lk 23.34).

From the forgiveness of Jesus on the cross comes peace, true peace comes from the cross: it is a gift of the risen one, a gift that gives us Jesus. You think the first greeting of the risen Jesus is "peace be with you," peace to your soul, to your hearts, your lives. The Lord gives us peace, gives us forgiveness but we must ask: "deliver us from evil", so as not to fall into evil. This is our hope and strength from the risen Jesus, who is here among us: He's here. He is here with the strength that helps us move forward, and promises to deliver us from evil.



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".