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Pope Francis The three steps of the temptation of the devil 04.04.20


Pope Francis: The three steps of the temptation of the devil  04.04.20



Pope Francis       04.04.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)         John 11: 45-56  
Saturday of the 5th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis the Three steps of Temptation

It has been a while that the doctors of the law and even the high priests, were restless because strange things were happening in their country. First this John, who eventually they left alone because he was a prophet, he baptized there and the people went but there were no other consequences. Then came this Jesus, pointed out by John. He began to do signs, and miracles, but above all to speak to the people and people understood, and people followed him, and he did not always observe the law and this was so disturbing. "This is a revolutionary, a peaceful revolutionary... Who attracted people to himself, and people followed him..." (cf. John. 11:45-48). And these ideas led them to talk to each other: "But look, I don't like this... that other...", and so among them these were the topics of their conversation, of their concern as well. 

Then some went to him to test him, and always the Lord had a clear response for them, which had not come to the mind of the doctors of the law. Let us think of that woman who was married seven times, widowed seven times: "But in heaven, which of these husbands will be she be married to?" (cf. Luke.20:33). He answered clearly and they went away a little bit embarrassed at the wisdom of Jesus and other times they left humiliated, as when they wanted to stone that adulterous woman and Jesus said at the end: "The one among you without sin, let him throw the first stone" (cf. John.8:7) and the Gospel says that they went away, starting with the elders, humiliated at that moment. This grew these conversations between them: "We have to do something, this is wrong...". 

Then they sent the soldiers to arrest him up and they came back saying, "We couldn't arrest him because no one else speaks like this man " ... "You too, have you allowed yourself to be deceived" (cf. John.7:45-49: And they become angry because not even the soldiers could arrest him. And then, after the resurrection of Lazarus - the reading that we heard today comes after that - many Jews went there to see the sisters of Lazarus, but some went to see what had happened in order to report back, and some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done." John. 11:45). Others believed in Him. And those gossipers who go here and there, they chatterer of all the time, who live gossiping ... they went to report him. 

At this time, that group that had formed among the doctors of the law had a formal meeting: "This is very dangerous we have to make a decision. What do we do? This man makes many signs - they recognize the miracles - If we let him continue like this, everyone will believe in him, there is danger, the people will follow him, they will break away from us" - the people were not attached to them - "The Romans will come and destroy our land and our nation" (cf. John.11.48). In this there was part of the truth but not the whole truth, it was a justification, because they had found equilibrium with their occupiers, but they hated the Roman occupiers, but politically they had found a balance. So they talked to each other. One of them, Caiaphas - he was the most radical -, was a high priest (he said): "Don't you consider that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, so that the whole nation may not perish!" (John:11.50). He was the high priest and he makes the proposal: "Let's take him out." And John says: "But he did not say this for himself, but, being a high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation. From that day they planned to kill him. John.11:51-53). 

It was a trial, a process that began with little anxieties in the time of John the Baptist and then ended in this session of the doctors of the law and high priests. A process that grew, a process that they became more secure in the decision they had to make, but no one had said it precisely and clearly: "This person must be cast out." 

This way the doctors of the law proceeded is precisely a model of how temptation works in us, because behind this truly was the devil who wanted to destroy Jesus and the temptation in us generally acts like this: it begins with a little thing, with a desire, an idea, it grows, infects others and in the end justifies itself. 

These are the three steps of the temptation of the devil in us and it is the three steps that the devil worked in the temptation of the doctors of the law. It began little, but it grew, and it grew, until it infected others, and in the end they justify themselves: "It is necessary for one to die for the people" (cf. John.11.50), the total justification. And they all went home calmly. They said, "This is the decision we had to make." And all of us, when we are overcome by temptation, end up calm, because we have found a justification for this sin, for this sinful attitude, for this action not according to God's law. 

We should have a habit of identifying this process of temptation in us. This process that makes us change our hearts from good to evil, that takes us on the road downhill. One thing that grows, grows, grows slowly, then infects others and eventually justifies itself. It is rare that temptations to us come all at once, the devil is cunning. And he knows how to take this path, he took it to come to the condemnation of Jesus. 

When we find ourselves in a sin, that we have fallen, yes, we must go and ask forgiveness from the Lord, it is the first (step) that we must do, but then we need to understand: "How did I come to fall there? How did this process begin in my soul? How did it grow stronger? Who else did I infect? And how did I finally justify myself falling?" 

The life of Jesus is always an example to us and the things that have happened to Jesus are things that will happen to us, temptations, justifications, good people who are around us and perhaps we do not listen to them and we surround ourselves with bad people in the moment of temptation in order for the temptation to get stronger. But let us never forget: always, behind a sin, behind a fall, there is a temptation that began small, that grew, that infected others and in the end I find a justification for sin. May the Holy Spirit enlighten us with this inner knowledge.