Pope Francis: Satan exists in the 21st century and how we can fight him
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said Satan exists in our present century and we must learn from the Gospel how to fight against his temptations. This was the core message of his homily at the Mass celebrated on Friday in the Santa Marta residence.
Pope Francis said the life of every Christian is a constant battle against evil just as Jesus during his life had to struggle against the devil and his many temptations. And he warned that whoever wants to follow Jesus must be aware of this reality.
“We too are tempted, we too are the target of attacks by the devil because the spirit of Evil does not want our holiness, he does not want our Christian witness, he does not want us to be disciples of Christ. And what does the Spirit of Evil do, through his temptations, to distance us from the path of Jesus? The temptation of the devil has three characteristics and we need to learn about them in order not to fall into the trap. What does Satan do to distance us from the path of Jesus? Firstly, his temptation begins gradually but grows and is always growing. Secondly, it grows and infects another person, it spreads to another and seeks to be part of the community. And in the end, in order to calm the soul, it justifies itself. It grows, it spreads and it justifies itself.”
Turning to the bible, the Pope recalled how Jesus’s first temptation by Satan was almost ‘like a seduction.’ Satan told Jesus to throw himself down from the Temple so that all the people will see that he is the Messiah! And warned the Pope, when the devil is rejected, he grows and comes back stronger than before. Jesus himself noted this in the gospel when the devil went around looking for companions and with them returned to Jesus. Satan got involved with Jesus’s enemies and what seemed at first like a calm trickle of water turned into a flood of water. In this way, the temptation grows, infects others and justifies itself. As an illustration, the Pope recalled how when Jesus preached in the synagogue, his enemies belittled him by saying “but isn’t this the son of Joseph, the carpenter, the son of Mary. He never studied so with what authority can he speak?
“We have a temptation that grows: it grows and infects others. For example, let’s look at gossip: I’m a bit envious of this or that person and at first I’m just envious inside and I need to share it and go to another person and say: “But have you seen that person?’… and this gossip tries to grow and infects another and another… This is the way gossip works and all of us have been tempted to gossip! Maybe not one of you, if you’re a saint , but I too have been tempted to gossip! It’s a daily temptation. And it begins in this way, discreetly, like a trickle of water. It grows by infecting others and in the end it justifies itself.”
Pope Francis concluded by urging people to be vigilant and not to give in to that initial temptation and thus allow it to spread to others and justify itself.
“We are all tempted because the law of our spiritual life, our Christian life is a struggle: a struggle. That’s because the Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”