Books of the Bible Index of Homilies
Matthew Mark Luke John The Acts Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Titus Philemon Hebrews James 1 Peter 2 Peter 1 John 2 John 3 John Jude Revelation Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Tobit Judith Esther 1 Maccabees 2 Maccabees Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes The Song of Songs The Book of Wisdom Sirach Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Baruch Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today’s Gospel passage (cf. Mt 16:21-27) is the continuation of last Sunday’s, which highlighted the profession of faith of Peter, the “rock” upon which Jesus wishes to build his Church. Today, in stark contrast, Matthew shows us the reaction of the same Peter when Jesus reveals to his disciples that He will have to suffer, be killed, and rise again (cf. 21). Peter takes the Teacher aside and reproaches Him because this — he says — cannot happen to Him, to Christ. But Jesus, in turn, rebukes Peter with harsh words: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men” (v. 23). A moment before, the Apostle had been blessed by the Father, because he had received that revelation from Him; he was a solid “rock” so that Jesus could build His community upon him; and immediately afterwards he becomes an obstacle, a rock but not for building, a stumbling block on the Messiah’s path. Jesus knows well that Peter and the others still have a long way to go to become his Apostles!
At that point, the Teacher turns to all those who were following Him, clearly presenting them the path to follow: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (v. 24). Always, today too, the temptation is that of wanting to follow a Christ without the cross, on the contrary, of teaching God which is the right path; like Peter: “No, no Lord! This shall never happen”. But Jesus reminds us that his way is the way of love, and that there is no true love without self sacrifice. We are called to not let ourselves be absorbed by the vision of this world, but to be ever more aware of the need and of the effort for we Christians to walk against the current and uphill.
Jesus completes his proposal with words that express a great and ever valid wisdom, because they challenge the egocentric mentality and behaviour. He exhorts: “whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (v. 25). This paradox contains the golden rule that God inscribed in the human nature created in Christ: the rule that only love gives meaning and happiness to life. To spend one’s own talents, one’s energy and one’s time only to save, protect and fulfil oneself, in reality leads to losing oneself, i.e. to a sad and barren existence. Instead let us live for the Lord and base our life on love, as Jesus did: we will be able to savour authentic joy, and our life will not be barren; it will be fruitful.
In the Eucharistic celebration we relive the mystery of the Cross; we not only remember, but we commemorate the redeeming Sacrifice in which the Son of God completely loses Himself so as to be received anew by the Father and thus find us again, we who were lost, together with all creatures. Each time we take part in the Holy Mass, the love of the crucified and Risen Christ is conveyed to us as food and drink, so that we may follow Him on the daily path, in concrete service to our brothers and sisters.
May Mary Most Holy, who followed Jesus up to Calvary, accompany us too and help us not to be afraid of the cross, but with Jesus nailed [to it], not a cross without Jesus, the Cross with Jesus, which is the cross of suffering for love of God and of our brothers and sisters, because this suffering, by the grace of Christ, bears the fruit of resurrection.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good morning and happy Feast Day!
The Solemnity of All Saints is “our” celebration: not because we are good, but because the sanctity of God has touched our life. The Saints are not perfect models, but people through whom God has passed. We can compare them to the Church windows which allow light to enter in different shades of colour. The saints are our brothers and sisters who have welcomed the light of God in their heart and have passed it on to the world, each according to his or her own “hue”. But they were all transparent; they fought to remove the stains and the darkness of sin, so as to enable the gentle light of God to pass through. This is life’s purpose: to enable God’s light to pass through; it is the purpose of our life too.
Indeed, today in the Gospel, Jesus addresses his followers, all of us, telling us we are “Blessed” (Mt 5:3). It is the word with which he begins his sermon, which is the “Gospel”, Good News, because it is the path of happiness. Those who are with Jesus are blessed; they are happy. Happiness is not in having something or in becoming someone, no. True happiness is being with the Lord and living for love. Do you believe this? True happiness is not in having something or in becoming someone; true happiness is being with the Lord and living for love. Do you believe this? We must go forth, believing in this. So, the ingredients for a happy life are called Beatitudes: blessed are the simple, the humble who make room for God, who are able to weep for others and for their own mistakes, who remain meek, fight for justice, are merciful to all, safeguard purity of heart, always work for peace and abide in joy, do not hate and, even when suffering, respond to evil with good.
These are the Beatitudes. They do not require conspicuous gestures; they are not for supermen, but for those who live the trials and toils of every day, for us. This is how the saints are: like everyone, they breathe air polluted by the evil there is in the world, but on the journey they never lose sight of Jesus’ roadmap, that indicated in the Beatitudes, which is like the map of Christian life.
Today is the celebration of those who have reached the destination indicated by this map: not only the saints on the calendar, but many brothers and sisters “next door”, whom we may have met and known. Today is a family celebration, of many simple, hidden people who in reality help God to move the world forward. And there are so many of them today! There are so many of them! Thanks to these unknown brothers and sisters who help God to move the world forward, who live among us; let us salute them all with a nice round of applause!
First of all — the first Beatitude says — they are “poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3). What does this mean? That they do not live for success, power and money; they know that those who set aside treasure for themselves are not rich toward God (cf. Lk 12:21). Rather, they believe that the Lord is life’s treasure, and love for neighbour the only true source of gain. At times we are dissatisfied due to something we lack, or worried if we are not considered as we would like; let us remember that our Beatitude is not here but in the Lord and in love: only with him, only by loving do we live as blessed.
Lastly I would like to quote another beatitude, which is not found in the Gospel but at the end of the Bible, and it speaks of the end of life: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Rev 14:13). Tomorrow we will be called to accompany with prayer our deceased, so they may be forever joyful in the Lord. Let us remember our loved ones with gratitude and let us pray for them. May the Mother of God, Queen of the Saints and Gate of Heaven, intercede for our journey of holiness and for our loved ones who have gone before us and who have already departed for the heavenly Homeland.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today’s Gospel passage (cf. Mk 8:27-35) turns to the question that permeates the whole Gospel of Mark: who is Jesus? But this time Jesus himself poses it to his disciples, helping them to gradually address the question of his identity. Before asking them, the Twelve, directly, Jesus wants to hear from them what the people think about him, and he is well aware that the disciples are very sensitive to the Teacher’s renown! Therefore, he asks: “Who do men say that I am?” (v. 27). It comes to light that Jesus is considered by the people as a great prophet. But, in reality, he is not interested in the opinions and gossip of the people. He also does not agree that his disciples should answer the questions with pre-packaged formulas, quoting well-known individuals from Sacred Scripture, because a faith that is reduced to formulas is a short-sighted faith.
The Lord wants his disciples of yesterday and today to establish a personal relationship with him, and thus to embrace him at the centre of their life. For this reason he spurs them to face themselves honestly, and he asks: “But who do you say that I am?” (v. 29). Today, Jesus addresses this very direct and confidential question to each of us: “You, who do you say that I am? All of you, who do you say that I am? Who am I for you?”. Each person is called to respond, in his or her heart, allowing each one to be illuminated by the light that the Father gives us in order to know his Son Jesus. And it can also happen to us, as it did to Peter, that we passionately affirm: “You are the Christ”. However, when Jesus tells us clearly what he told the disciples, that is, that his mission is fulfilled not on the wide road to success, but on the arduous path of the suffering, humiliated, rejected and crucified Servant, then it can also happen that we, like Peter, might protest and rebel because this contrasts with our expectations, with worldly expectations. In those moments, we too deserve Jesus’ healthy rebuke: “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men” (v. 33).
Brothers and sisters, the profession of faith in Jesus Christ cannot stop at words, but calls to be authenticated by practical choices and gestures, by a life characterized by God’s love; it calls for a great life, a life with an abundance of love for neighbour. Jesus tells us that to follow him, to be his disciples, we must deny ourselves (cf. v. 34), that is, the demands of our own selfish pride, and take up our own cross. Then he gives everyone a fundamental rule. And what is this rule? “For whoever would save his life will lose it” (v. 35). Often in life, for many reasons, we go astray, looking for happiness only in things, or in people whom we treat as things. But we find happiness only when love, true love, encounters us, surprises us, changes us. Love changes everything! And love can also change us, each one of us. The witnesses of Saints proves it.
May the Virgin Mary, who lived her faith by faithfully following her Son Jesus, help us too to walk on his path, generously spending our life for him and for our brothers and sisters.
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.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today's Gospel (cf. Lk 12, 13-21) opens with the scene of a man who stands up in the crowd and asks Jesus to resolve a legal question about the inheritance of family. But in His answer He does not address the question, and exhorts us to stay away from greed, that is the greed to possess. To distract His listeners from this frantic search for wealth, Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool, who believes he is happy because he has had the good fortune of an exceptional year and feels secure because of the goods he has accumulated. It would be nice that today you read this chapter twelve of Saint Luke, verse 13. It is a beautiful parable that teaches us much. The story comes alive when the contrast emerges between what the rich man plans for himself and between what God promises for him.
The rich man puts three considerations before his soul: the many possessions piled up, the many years that these assets seem to assure him and third, tranquillity and unrestrained well-being (cf. v. 19). But the word that God address to him cancels these plans. Instead of the "many years", God indicates the immediacy of ' tonight; tonight you will die '; instead of "the enjoyment of life" He presents him with the rendering of life; with the consequent judgment. As for the reality of many accumulated goods on which the rich man had to base everything, it is covered by the sarcasm of the question: "and what he has prepared, who's will it be?" (v. 20). Let us think of the struggles for inheritance; so many family fights. And so many people, we all know some, that at the time that death begins to arrive: the grandchildren, the grandchildren come to see "But what is for me?", and take everything away. It is this contrast which justifies the nickname of "fool"- because he thinks about things that he believes to be concrete but are a fantasy - with which God speaks to this man. He is foolish because in practice he has renounced God, he has not come to terms with Him.
The end of parable, formulated by the Evangelist, is of singular effectiveness: "so it is that of those who accumulate treasures for themselves and do not enrich themselves with God" (v. 21). It is a cautionary tale that reveals the horizon towards which we are all called to look. Material goods are necessary – they are real! -but are a means of living honestly and in sharing with those most in need. Today Jesus invites us to consider that riches can chain the heart and distract it from the true treasure that is in heaven. Saint Paul also reminds us of this in today's second reading. It goes like this: "seek the things that are above. ... turn your thoughts to the things above, not of things on Earth "(Col 3, 1-2).
This – you understand--does not mean being alienated from reality, but look for things that have a true value: justice, solidarity, hospitality, fraternity, peace, all of which constitute the true dignity of man. It is a matter of inclining towards a life lived not in the worldly way, but according to the Gospel: to love God with our whole being, and to love our neighbour as Jesus loved him, that is in service and self-giving. The greed for possessions, the desire to have possessions, does not satisfy the heart, indeed it provokes more hunger! Greed is like those good candies: you take one and say "Ah! How good ", and then you take another; and one leads to another. So it is with greed: you will never be satisfied. Be careful! Love thus understood and lived is the source of true happiness while the boundless search for material goods and wealth is often source of restlessness, and of adversity, of prevarication, of wars. Many wars begin for greed.
The Virgin Mary help us not to be fascinated by the securities that pass by, but to be credible witnesses every day to eternal values of the Gospel.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today we begin a series of catechesis about the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew (5:1-11). This text that opens the "the Sermon on the Mountain" and that has enlightened the lives of believers and also of many non-believers. It is difficult not to be touched by these words of Jesus, and it is right that we must understand them and to welcome them more and more fully. The Beatitudes contain the Christian 'identity card' - this is our identity card - because they outline the face of Jesus Himself, His way of life.
Now let us frame these words of Jesus in a global way; in the next catechesis we will comment on the individual Beatitudes, one by one.
First of all, it is important how the proclamation of this message came about: Jesus, seeing the crowds that follow him, climbs the gentle slope that surrounds the lake of Galilee, sits down and, turning to the disciples, announces the Beatitudes. So the message is addressed to the disciples, but on the horizon there are crowds, that is, all humanity. It's a message to all of humanity.
In addition, the "mountain" refers to Sinai, where God gave Moses the Commandments. Jesus begins to teach a new law: to be poor, to be meek, to be merciful. These "new commandments" are more than standards. In fact, Jesus does not impose anything, but reveals the way to happiness – His way – repeating the word " blessed " eight times.
Each Beatitude consists of three parts. At first there is always the word "blessed"; then comes the situation in which the blessed find themselves: the poverty of spirit, mourning, hunger and the thirst for justice, and so on; finally there is the reason for being blessed, introduced by the conjunction "why": "Blessed are these because, why those are blessed ..." So there are the eight Beatitudes and it would be nice to learn them by heart to repeat them, to have in our minds and hearts this law that Jesus gave us.
Let us pay attention to this fact: the reason for bliss is not the current situation but the new condition that the blessed receive as a gift from God: "because for them is the kingdom of heaven", "because they will be consoled", "because they will inherit the earth", and so on.
In the third element, which is precisely the reason for happiness, Jesus often uses a passive future: "they will be comforted", "they will inherit the earth", "they will be satisfied", "they will be forgiven", "they will be called children of God".
But what does the word" blessed" mean? Why does each of the eight Blessings begin with the word "blessed"? The original Greek term does not indicate one who has a full belly or is doing well, but he is a person who is in a state of grace, who progresses in the grace of God and who progresses on the path of God: patience, poverty, service to others, consolation ... Those who progress in these things are happy and will be blessed.
God, in order to give Himself to us, often chooses unthinkable paths, perhaps those of our limitations, of our tears, of our defeats. It is the Easter joy of which the Eastern brothers speak, the one who has the stigmata but is alive, has gone through death and has experienced the power of God. The Beatitudes always lead you to joy; are the way to joy. It will do us good to take the Gospel of Matthew today, chapter five, verses from one to eleven and read the Beatitudes - perhaps a few more times, during the week - to understand this beautiful way, this secure way to the happiness that the Lord gives to us.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today we celebrate All Saints, and in the Liturgy the “programmatic” message of Jesus resounds: namely, the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:1-12a). They show us the path that leads to the Kingdom of God and to happiness: the path of humility, compassion, meekness, justice and peace. To be a saint is to walk on this road. Let us now focus on two aspects of this way of life. Two aspects that are proper to this saintly way of life: joy and prophecy.
Joy. Jesus begins with the word “Blessed” (Mt 5:3). It is the principal proclamation, that of an unprecedented happiness. Beatitude, holiness, is not a life plan made up only of effort and renunciation, but is above all the joyful discovery of being God’s beloved sons and daughters. And this fills you with joy. It is not a human achievement, it is a gift we receive: we are holy because God, who is the Holy One, comes to dwell in our lives. It is He who gives holiness to us. For this we are blessed! The joy of the Christian, then, is not a fleeting emotion or a simple human optimism, but the certainty of being able to face every situation under God’s loving gaze, with the courage and strength that come from Him. The saints, even in the midst of many tribulations, have experienced this joy and have borne witness to it. Without joy, faith becomes a rigorous and oppressive exercise, and risks ailing with sadness. Let us consider this word: ailing with sadness. A desert Father said that sadness is “a worm that burrows into the heart”, which corrodes life (cf. Evagrius Ponticus, The Eight Spirits of Evil, XI). Let us ask ourselves this: are we joyful Christians? Am I a joyful Christian or not? Do we spread joy or are we dull, sad people, with a funeral face? Remember that there is no holiness without joy!
The second aspect: prophecy. The Beatitudes are addressed to the poor, the afflicted, those who hunger for justice. It is a message that goes against the grain. Indeed, the world says that in order to have happiness you must be rich, powerful, always young and strong, and enjoy fame and success. Jesus overturns these criteria and makes a prophetic proclamation – and this is the prophetic dimension of holiness – the true fullness of life is achieved by following Jesus, by putting His Word into practice. And this means another poverty, that is, being poor inside, hollowing oneself to make room for God. Those who believe themselves to be rich, successful and secure base everything on themselves and close themselves off from God and their brothers and sisters, while those who know that they are poor and not self-sufficient remain open to God and to their neighbour. And they find joy. The Beatitudes, then, are the prophecy of a new humanity, of a new way of living: making oneself small and entrusting oneself to God, instead of prevailing over others; being meek, instead of seeking to impose oneself; practising mercy, instead of thinking only of oneself; committing oneself to justice and peace, instead of promoting injustice and inequality, even by connivance. Holiness is accepting and putting into practice, with God’s help, this prophecy that revolutionises the world. So, we can ask ourselves: do I bear witness to the prophecy of Jesus? Do I express the prophetic spirit I received in Baptism? Or do I conform to the comforts of life and to my own laziness, assuming that everything is fine if it is fine with me? Do I bring to the world the joyful newness of Jesus’ prophecy or the usual complaints about what is wrong? Questions that are good for us to ask ourselves.
May the Holy Virgin give us something of her soul, that blessed soul that joyfully magnified the Lord, who “has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree” (cf. Lk 1:52).
Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!
At the centre of the Gospel of today’s Liturgy are the Beatitudes (cf. Lk 6:20-23). It is interesting to note that Jesus, despite being surrounded by a great crowd, proclaims them by addressing them to “his disciples” (v. 20). He speaks to the disciples. Indeed, the Beatitudes define the identity of the disciple of Jesus. They may sound strange, almost incomprehensible to those who are not disciples; whereas, if we ask ourselves what a disciple of Jesus is like, the answer is precisely the Beatitudes. “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God” (v. 20). Blessed are you poor. Jesus says two things to his people: that they are blessed and they are poor; indeed, that they are blessed because they are poor.
In what sense? In the sense that disciples Jesus do not find their joy in money, power, or other material goods; but in the gifts they receive every day from God: life, creation, brothers and sisters, and so on. These are gifts of life. They are content to share even the goods they possess, because they live according to the logic of God. And what is the logic of God? Gratuitousness. The disciple has learned to live in gratuitousness. This poverty is also an attitude towards the meaning of life, because Jesus’ disciples do not think about possessing it, about already knowing everything, but rather they know they must learn every day. And this is poverty: the awareness of having to learn every day. The disciple of Jesus, since he or she has this attitude, is a humble, open person, far from prejudice and inflexibility.
There was a good example in last Sunday’s Gospel reading: Simon Peter, an expert fisherman, accepts Jesus’ invitation to cast his nets at an unusual hour, and then, full of wonder at the miraculous catch, leaves the boat and all his goods to follow the Lord. Peter shows himself to be docile by leaving everything, and in this way, he becomes a disciple. Instead, those who are too attached to their own ideas and their own securities, find it difficult to truly follow Jesus. They follow him a little, only in those things in which “I agree with him and he agrees with me”, but then, as far as the rest is concerned, it goes no further. And this is not a disciple. Perhaps they listen to him, but they do not follow him. And so, they fall into sadness. They become sad because the accounts do not add up, because reality escapes their mentality and they find they are dissatisfied. Disciples, on the other hand, know how to question themselves, how to humbly seek God every day, and this allows them to delve into reality, grasping its richness and complexity.
In other words, the disciple accepts the paradox of the Beatitudes: they declare that those who are poor, who lack many goods and recognize this, are blessed, that is, happy. Humanly speaking, we are inclined to think in another way: happy are those who are rich, with many goods, who receive plaudits and are the envy of many, who have all the certainties. But this is a worldly mindset, it is not the way of thinking of the Beatitudes! Jesus, on the contrary, declares worldly success to be a failure, since it is based on a selfishness that inflates and then leaves the heart empty. Faced with the paradox of the Beatitudes, disciples allow themselves to be challenged, aware that it is not God who must enter into our logic, but we into his. This requires a journey, sometimes wearisome, but always accompanied by joy. Because the disciple of Jesus is joyful, with the joy that comes from Jesus. Because, let us remember, the first word Jesus says is: blessed, beati, which gives us the name of the Beatitudes. This is the synonym of being disciples of Jesus. The Lord, by freeing us from the slavery of self-centredness, breaks our locks, dissolves our hardness, and opens up to us true happiness, which is often found where we do not expect it to be. It is he who guides our life, not us, with our preconceptions and our demands. Disciples, in the end, are those who let themselves be led by Jesus, who open their heart to Jesus, who listen to him and follow his path.
We might then ask ourselves: do I – each one of us – have the disciple’s readiness? Or do I behave with the rigidity of one who believes him- or herself to be right, who feels decent, who feels they have already arrived? Do I allow myself to be “inwardly unhinged” by the paradox of the Beatitudes, or do I stay within the confines of my own ideas? And then, with the logic of the Beatitudes, setting aside the hardships and difficulties, do I feel the joy of following Jesus? This is the decisive trait of the disciple: the joy of the heart. Let’s not forget – the joy of the heart. This is the touchstone for knowing if a person is a disciple: does he or she have joy in the heart? Do I have joy in my heart? This is the point.
May Our Lady, first disciple of the Lord, help us live as open and joyful disciples.
Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon
The Gospel of the Liturgy today, first Sunday of Lent, takes us into the desert, where Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit, for forty days, to be tempted by the devil (cf. Lk 4:1-13). Jesus too was tempted by the devil, and He accompanies us, every one of us, in our temptations. The desert symbolizes the fight against the seductions of evil, to learn to choose true freedom. Indeed, Jesus lives the experience of the desert just before beginning his public mission. It is precisely through this spiritual combat that he decisively affirms what type of Messiah he intends to be. Not this type of Messiah, but that one: I would say that this is indeed the declaration of Jesus’ messianic identity, the messianic way of Jesus. “I am the Messiah, but on this path”. Let us then look closely at the temptations he is battling.
Twice the devil addresses him, saying: “If you are the Son of God…” (vv. 3, 9). He is thus proposing to him to exploit his position: first to satisfy the material needs he feels, hunger (cf. v. 3), then to increase his power (cf. vv. 6-7); and, finally, to have a prodigious sign from God (cf. vv. 9-11). Three temptations. It is as if he were saying, “If you are Son of God, take advantage of it!”. How often this happens to us: “But if you are in that position, take advantage of it! Don’t lose the opportunity, the chance”, that is, “think of your benefit”. It is a seductive proposal, but it leads you to the enslavement of the heart: it makes us obsessed with the desire to have, it reduces everything to the possession of things, power, fame. This is the core of the temptations. It is the “poison of the passions” in which evil is rooted. Look within ourselves, and we will find that our temptations always have this mindset, this way of acting.
But Jesus opposes the attractions of evil in a winning way. How does he do this? By responding to temptations with the Word of God, which says not to take advantage, not to use God, others and things for oneself, not to take advantage of one’s own position to obtain privileges. Because true happiness and true freedom are not found in possessing, but in sharing; not in taking advantage of others, but in loving them; not in the obsession of power, but in the joy of service.
Brothers and sisters, these temptations also accompany us on the journey of life. We must be vigilant – do not be afraid, it happens to everyone – and be vigilant, because they often present themselves under an apparent form of good. In fact, the devil, who is cunning, always uses deception. He wanted Jesus to believe that his proposals were useful to prove that he was really the Son of God. And he does so with us too: he often arrives “with sweet eyes”, “with an angelic face”; he even knows how to disguise himself with sacred, apparently religious motives!
And I would like to emphasize something. Jesus does not converse with the devil: he never conversed with the devil. Either he banished him, when he healed the possessed, or in this case, when he has to respond, he does so with the Word of God, never with his own word. Brothers and sisters, never enter into dialogue with the devil: he is more cunning than we are. Never! Cling to the Word of God like Jesus, and at most answer always with the Word of God. And on this path, we will never go wrong.
The devil does this with us: he often comes “with gentle eyes”, “with an angelic face”; he even knows how to disguise himself with sacred, apparently religious motives! If we give in to his flattery, we end up justifying our falsehood by disguising it with good intentions. For instance, how often have we heard “I have done strange things, but I have helped the poor”; “I have taken advantage of my role – as a politician, a governor, a priest, a bishop – but also for good”; “I have given in to my instincts, but in the end, I did no harm to anyone”, these justifications, and so on, one after the other. Please: no compromises with evil! No dialogue with the devil! We must not enter into dialogue with temptation, we must not fall into that slumber of the conscience that makes us say: “But after all, it's not serious, everyone does it”! Let us look at Jesus, who does not seek accommodation, does not make agreements with evil. He opposes the devil with the Word of God, who is stronger than the devil, and thus overcomes temptation.
May this time of Lent also be a time of the desert for us. Let us take time for silence and prayer – just a little, it will do us good – in these spaces let us stop and look at what is stirring in our hearts, our inner truth, that which we know cannot be justified. Let us find inner clarity, placing ourselves before the Word of God in prayer, so that a positive fight against the evil that enslaves us, a fight for freedom, may take place within us.
Let us ask the Blessed Virgin to accompany us in the Lenten desert and to help us on our way of conversion.