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Angelus Address: On the Temptations of Jesus in the Desert

Who Points Out to Us the Way to Overcome Temptations: ‘The Interior Life, Faith in God, and the Certainty of His Love for Us’

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gaveMarch 10, 2019, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Before the Angelus:
 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
The Gospel of this First Sunday of Lent (Cf. Luke 4:1-13) recounts Jesus’ temptations in the desert. After having fasted for forty days, Jesus is tempted three times by the devil. First he invites Him to turn a stone into bread (v. 3); then he took Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and proposed to Him that He become a powerful and glorious Messiah (vv. 5-6); finally, he took Him to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and invited Him to throw Himself down, to manifest in a spectacular way His divine power (vv. 9-11). The three temptations indicate three ways the world always proposes, promising great successes, three ways to deceive us: the avidity to possess — to have, have, have –, human glory, the instrumentalization of God. They are three ways that will lead us to ruin.
 The first, the way of avidity to possess: this is always the devil’s insidious logic. He begins from the natural and legitimate need to eat, to live, to be fulfilled, to be happy, to then push us to believe that all this is possible without God, rather, even against Him. However, Jesus opposes him, saying: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’” (v. 4). Recalling the Chosen People’s long journey through the desert, Jesus affirms His will to abandon Himself with full trust to the Father’s Providence, who always takes care of His children.
Second temptation: the way of human glory. The devil says: ”If you then, will worship me, it shall all be yours” (v. 7). All personal dignity can be lost, if one lets oneself be corrupted by the idols of money, success, and power, to attain one’s own self-affirmation. And one experiences the thrill of an empty joy that very soon vanishes. And this also leads us to be like “peacocks,” to vanity, but this also vanishes. Therefore, Jesus answers: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (v. 8).
And then the third temptation: to instrumentalize God to one’s advantage. To the devil who, quoting the Scriptures invites Him to obtain from God a striking miracle, Jesus opposes him again 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). And thus He rejects what is, perhaps, the most subtle temptation: that of wanting to “pull God on our side,” asking Him for graces that in reality serve or will serve to satisfy our pride.
These are the ways put before us, with the illusion of being able to obtain in this way success and happiness. However, in reality, they are altogether foreign to God’s way of acting. Rather, they, in fact, separate us from God, because they are the works of Satan.  Jesus, facing these tests personally, overcomes temptation thrice to adhere fully to the Father’s plan. And He points out to us the remedies: the interior life, faith in God, the certainty of His love, the certainty that God loves us, who is Father, and with this certainty, we will overcome every temptation.
However, there is something to which I want to call your attention, an interesting thing. In answering the tempter, Jesus doesn’t enter in a dialogue but responds to the three challenges only with the Word of God. This teaches us that one doesn’t dialogue with the devil, one must not dialogue; one answers only with the Word of God.
So, let us take advantage of Lent, as a privileged time to be purified, to experience God’s consoling presence in our life.
May the Virgin Mary, icon of fidelity to God, support us with her maternal intercession on our journey, helping us to reject evil always and receive the good.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
After the Angelus:
 Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Proclaimed Blessed yesterday at Oviedo, in Spain, were seminarians Angelo Cuartas and eight martyred companions, killed out of hatred of the faith at a time of religious persecution. These young aspirants to the priesthood loved the Lord so much, as to follow Him on the Way of the Cross. May their heroic witness help seminarians, priests, and Bishops to keep themselves limpid and generous, to serve faithfully the Lord and the Holy People of God.
A warm greeting goes to the families, the parish groups, the Associations and all the pilgrims from Italy and from different countries. I greet the students of Castro Urdiales (Spain) and the faithful from Warsaw, as well as those of Castellammare di Stabia and Porcia. I greet the Little Singers of Pura (Switzerland), the youngsters of the Deanship of Baggio (Milan), those of the Profession of Faith of Samarate, the Confirmation candidates of Bondone and of Paullo, the young people of Verona and the pupils of the “Emiliani” school of the Somaschi Fathers of Genoa.
I hope for all that the Lenten journey just begun is rich in fruits, and I ask you to remember me and <my> collaborators of the Roman Curia in prayer as this evening we will begin a week of Spiritual Exercises.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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Virginia Forrester

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