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 o
thers. “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      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   01.05.19   General Audience, St Peter's Square, Rome         Catechesis on the Our Father, - General Audience
Pope Francis 01.05.19  General Audience

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

We continue the catechesis on the "our father", we now consider the penultimate invocation: "Lead us not into temptation" (Mt 6.13). Another version says: "Let's not fall into temptation." The "our father" begins in a way that makes us want serenity: God's plan we can make in our midst. Then looks at life, and makes us ask what we need in every day: the "daily bread". Then prayer is addressed to our interpersonal relationships, often polluted by selfishness: we ask forgiveness and we promise to give it. But it's in this penultimate invocation that our dialogue with our heavenly father comes, so to speak, to the heart of the drama, namely the battle between our freedom and the snares of the evil one.

As is known, the original Greek expression contained in the Gospels is hard to understand exactly, and all modern translations are a bit lame. One thing we can agree unanimously:  God does not seek to put temptations in our way. As if God was lurking to tighten the snares and make pitfalls for His children. Such an interpretation is defeated by the text itself, and it is far from the image of God that Jesus revealed to us. Let us not forget: the "our father" begins with "a parent". And a father does not trap his children. Christians do not have to deal with a jealous God, competing with men, or one who likes to put them to the test. These are pictures of many pagan gods. We read in the letter of James the Apostle: "No one, experiencing temptation should say," I am being tempted by God "; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he does not tempt anyone "(1.13). Quite the contrary: the father is not the author of evil, no child asking for a fish is given a snake (cf. Lk 11.11) – as Jesus teaches – and when evil faces us in life, He fights alongside us, that we may be released. A God who always fights for us, not against us. Is the father! It is in this sense that we pray the "our father." 

Both trial and temptation were mysteriously present in the life of Jesus himself. This experience makes the son of God completely our brother.  God has not left us alone, but in Jesus he manifests himself as the "God-with-us" up to the extreme. He is with us when he gives us life, is with us during life, is with us in joy, is with us in trials, is with us in sadness, is with us in defeat, when we sin, but always is with us because he is the father and cannot leave us.

If we are tempted to do evil, denying the fraternity with others and wanting absolute power over everything and everyone, Jesus has already fought this temptation for us: clear evidence is given in the first pages of the Gospel. Soon after receiving his baptism from John, in a crowd of sinners, Jesus retreats to the wilderness and is tempted by Satan. Thus begins the public life of Jesus, with the temptation that comes from Satan. Satan was present. Many people say: "but why talk of the devil which is something old? The devil does not exist ". But look what it teaches you in the Gospel: Jesus has dealt with the devil, was tempted by Satan. But Jesus dismisses every temptation and emerges victorious. The Gospel of Matthew has an interesting note ending the duel between Jesus and the enemy: "then the devil left him, and behold, Angels came and served him" (4.11).

But even in the time of Supreme trial God does not leave us alone. When Jesus withdraws to pray at Gethsemane, his heart is flooded with an unspeakable distress – as he said to his disciples – and he experiences loneliness and abandonment. Alone, with responsibility for all the sins of the world on his shoulders; alone with an unspeakable distress. The evidence is so heart-breaking that something unexpected happens. Jesus never begs for love for himself, that night feeling his soul sorrowful, even to death, and then asks for the closeness of his friends: "remain here, and watch with me!" (Mt 26.38). As we know, the disciples, weighed down by a stupor caused by fear, fell asleep. In times of agony, God asks man not to abandon him, and man instead sleeps. At times when man is on trial, God watches. In the worst moments of our lives, in most suffering moments, in the most distressing moments, God watches with us, God struggles with us, he is always close to us. Why? Because He is our Father. So we begin the prayer: "our father". And a father never abandons his children. That night Jesus ' pain, of struggle is the final seal of the incarnation: God comes down to visit us in our depths and in the dificulties that punctuate history.

It is our comfort in times of trial: to know that that valley, since Jesus has crossed it, is no longer desolate, but is blessed by the presence of the son of God. He will never abandon us!

Therefore, God, keep away from us the time of trial and temptation. But when this time comes to us, our Father, shows us that we are not alone. For Christ has already taken upon himself the weight of our cross, calling us to carry it with him and to entrust ourselves to the Father's faithful love. Thank you.