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Pope Francis talks about Persecution and the devil 27.03.20


Pope Francis talks about Persecution and the devil 27.03.20


Pope Francis   27.03.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Wisdom 2: 1A, 12-22        John 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30
Friday of the 4th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis talks about Persecution and the devil 27.03.20

The first Reading is almost an early chronicle of what will happen to Jesus. It's a forward chronicle, it's a prophecy. It sounds like a historical description of what happened next. What do the wicked people say? "Let us beset the just one because he is obnoxious to us and opposes our actions. He reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training . To us he is the censure of our thoughts. Merely to see him is a hardship to us, because his life is not like that of others. In fact, if the Just One is the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hands of his foes." Let us think of what they said to Jesus on the Cross: "If you are the Son of God, come down; He will come to save you." And then, their plan of action: let us test him with revilement and torture to prove his gentleness and try his patience, and condemn him to a shameful death for according to his own words, God will take care of him". It's a prophecy, specifically, of what will happen. And the Jews were trying to kill him, the Gospel says. They even tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.

This prophecy is too detailed; the action plan of these evil people is just details on details, it doesn't spare anything, with revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness ... let's create pitfalls, let's trick him, to see if he falls ... This is not a simple hatred, there is no bad action plan – certainly – of one party against another: this is something else. This is fierceness: with the devil behind it, always, with every hardship, trying to destroy and does not spare any means. Let us think of the beginning of the Book of Job, which is prophetic about this: God is satisfied with Job's way of life, and the devil says to him: "Yes, because he has everything, he hasn't been tested! Put him to the test!" And first the devil takes away his possessions, then he takes away his health and Job never, never distances himself from God. But the devil, what does he do: torture. All the time. Behind every hardship is the devil, to destroy God's work. Behind a discussion or friendship, it may be that it is the devil behind something with normal temptations that are very distant. But when there is fierceness, there is no doubt: there is the presence of the devil. And he does it very subtly. Let us think of how the devil has been fierce not only against Jesus, but also in the persecution of Christians; how he sought the most sophisticated means to bring them to apostasy, to move them away from God. This is, as we say in daily speech, this is diabolical: yes; diabolical intelligence.

Some bishops from one of the countries that suffered the dictatorship of an atheist regime came to me, in persecution, with details like this: on the Monday after Easter the teachers had to ask the children: "What did you eat yesterday?", and the children said what it was at lunch. And some said, "Eggs," and those who said "eggs" were then persecuted to see if they were Christians because they ate eggs in that country on Easter Sunday. Up to this point, to see, to spy, where there is a Christian to kill him. This a fierce persecution and this is the devil.

And what do you do at the time of the hardship? Only two things can be done: discussing with these people is not possible because they have their own ideas, fixed ideas, ideas that the devil has sown in their hearts. We heard what their plan of action is. What can be done? What Jesus did: to remain silent. It is striking, when we read in the Gospel that before all these accusations, Jesus was silent about all these things. In the face of the spirit of persecution, only silence, never justification. Never. Jesus spoke, He explained. When He realized that there were no words that were valid, silence. And in silence Jesus underwent His Passion. It is the silence of the just in the face of persecution. And this is also valid for – let's call them so – the little daily hardships, when some of us feel that there is a chatter there, against him, and they say things and then nothing comes out ... shut up. Silence. And to endure and tolerate the fierceness of the chatter. The chatter is also a fierceness, a social arousing: in society, in the neighbourhood, in the workplace, but always against him. It is not as strong a hardship as this, but it is a hardship, to destroy the other because you see that the other disturbs, harasses.

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to fight against the evil spirit, to discuss when we need to discuss; but in the face of the spirit of persecution, to have the courage to remain silent and let others speak. The same in front of these little daily persecutions that is the chatter: let them talk. In silence, before God.