The Word of God is the only thing that allows us to resist temptation to sin. This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta today.
The Holy Father reflected on the first reading from the Apostle James which spoke of the nature of temptation. “Each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire. Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death,” the reading states.
Temptations, the Pope said, stem from our passions, and the interior wounds we carry from original sin. “It is curious, temptations have three characteristics”, the Pope said: it grows, it infects and it justifies itself. “It grows: it begins with tranquility, and grows,” he said. “Jesus Himself said this, when he spoke of the parable of the wheat and the darnel: the wheat grows, but also the darnel that was sowed by the enemy. And temptations grows: it grows, it grows…And if someone doesn’t stop it, it will surround everything.”
Describing it as “contagious”, the Holy Father warned that temptation closes us in an environment that is not easy to escape. The Gospel of the day was about Christ’s words to his disciples, to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod. The disciples, the Pope observed, did not have space, did not have time to listen since they were so closed in on their problem of not having bread.
“And so, when we are in temptation, we do not hear the Word of God: we do not hear it. We do not understand it,” he said. “And Jesus had to remind us of the multiplication of the loaves to make us leave that environment, because temptation closes us in, it cuts every capability of foresight, it closes us off every horizon, and it brings us to sin.”
“When we are in temptation, only the Word of God, the word of Jesus saves us. To listen to that Word that opens up for us that horizon. He is always willing to teach us to flee from temptation. And Jesus is great because he not only makes us flee from temptation, but gives us more confidence.”
The Pope went on to say that this confidence is our greatest strength when we are tempted. While the devil tries to close us in, Christ comes to free us from that prison with his Word.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to ask God to be open to his Word which comes to save us from temptation.
“Let us ask the Lord that He may always, like he did with the disciples, with His patience, when we are in temptation, tell us: ‘Stop, be calm. Remember what I have done with you in that time, in that time: remember. Raise your eyes, look at the horizon, don’t close, don’t be closed, go forward.’ And this Word will save us from falling into sin in the moment of temptation.” (J.A.E.)