Pope Francis says "... in this time of Lent to be vigilant in the face of temptations...to follow Jesus in the fight against evil..." Full Text


St. Peter's Square
Sunday, March 1, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

On this first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel (cf Mt 4: 1-11) tells that Jesus, after being baptized in the Jordan River, "was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil" (v. 1). He prepares to begin his mission as announcer of the Kingdom of heaven and, as already Moses and Elijah (cf. Ex 24,18; 1 Kings 19,8), in the Old Testament, he does it with a fast of forty days. Enter Lent.

At the end of this fasting period, the tempter, the devil, breaks in and tries three times to put Jesus in difficulty. The first temptation is inspired by the fact that Jesus is hungry; the devil suggests to him: "If you are the Son of God, say that these stones become bread" (v. 3). A challenge. But Jesus' answer is clear: "It is written:" Man will not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God "" (4: 4). He refers to Moses when he reminds the people of the long journey made in the desert, in which he learned that his life depends on the Word of God (cf. Dt 8,3).

Then the devil makes a second attempt, (vv. 5-6) becomes more cunning, also citing Holy Scripture. The strategy is clear: if you have so much confidence in the power of God, then experience it, in fact the Scripture itself states that you will be helped by the angels (v. 6). But even in this case Jesus does not allow himself to be confused, because whoever believes knows that God does not test him, but entrusts himself to his goodness. Therefore to the words of the Bible, instrumentally interpreted by satan, Jesus replies with another quote: "It is also written:" You will not test the Lord your God "" (v. 7).

Finally, the third attempt (vv. 8-9) reveals the true thought of the devil: since the coming of the Kingdom of heaven marks the beginning of his defeat, the evil one would like to divert Jesus from carrying out his mission, offering him a perspective of political messianism. But Jesus rejects the idolatry of human power and glory and, in the end, drives away the tempter by saying: "Go away, Satan! It is written in fact: "The Lord, your God, you will worship: you will only worship him" "(v. 10). And at this point, near Jesus, faithful to the handing over of the Father, angels came to serve him (cf. v. 11).

This teaches us one thing: Jesus does not dialogue with the devil. Jesus responds to the devil with the Word of God, not with his word. In temptation many times we begin to dialogue with temptation, to dialogue with the devil: "Yes, but I can do this ..., then I confess, then this, that other ...". Never talk to the devil. Jesus does two things with the devil: he chases him away or, as in this case, he answers with the Word of God. Be careful: never dialogue with temptation, never dialogue with the devil.

Even today Satan breaks into people's lives to tempt them with his tempting proposals; mixes his with the many voices that try to tame the conscience. Messages come from many quarters inviting "to be tempted" to experience the thrill of transgression. The experience of Jesus teaches us that temptation is the attempt to take alternative ways to those of God: "But, do this, there is no problem, then God forgives! But take a day of joy ... "-" But it's a sin! " - "No, it's nothing." Alternative ways, ways that give us the feeling of self-sufficiency, of the enjoyment of life as an end in itself. But all this is illusory: soon we realize that the more we distance ourselves from God, the more we feel defenseless and helpless in the face of the great problems of existence.

May the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Him who crushed the head of the serpent, help us in this time of Lent to be vigilant in the face of temptations, not to submit to any idol of this world, to follow Jesus in the fight against evil; and we too will winners like Jesus.

After the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters!

I greet all of you, faithful from Rome and pilgrims from Italy and various countries.

In particular, I greet the young people of Formentera, the faithful of Ostuni and those of the parish of San Pio da Pietrelcina in Rome.

I wish everyone that the Lenten journey, which has just begun, be rich in fruits of the Spirit and rich in works of good.

I am a little saddened by the news that many displaced people arrive, many men, women, children driven away due to the war, many migrants who seek refuge in the world, and help. These days, it has become very strong. Let us pray for them.

I also ask you for a remembrance in the prayer for the Spiritual Exercises of the Roman Curia, which will begin this evening in Ariccia. Unfortunately, the cold forces me not to participate this year: I will follow the meditations from here. I spiritually join the Curia and all the people who are experiencing moments of prayer, doing the Spiritual Exercises at home.
Have a good Sunday and a good lunch!