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Angelus Address: On the Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent: Jesus Is Led by the Spirit into the Wilderness to be Tempted by the Devil

‘Jesus Doesn’t Dialogue with the Devil, Jesus Answers the Devil with the Word of God; Never Dialogue with the Devil’

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, 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!

In this first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel (Cf. Matthew 4:1-11) tells us that, after the Baptism in the Jordan, Jesus “was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (v. 1). He prepares Himself to begin His mission to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven and, already as Moses and Elijah (Cf. Exodus 24:18; 1 Kings 19:8) in the Old Testament, He does so with a forty-day fast. He enters “Lent.” At the end of this period of fasting, the tempter, the devil breaks in and seeks three times to put Jesus in difficulty. The first temptation takes its cue from the fact that Jesus is hungry, and he suggests to Him: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (v. 3) — a challenge, but Jesus’ answer is clear: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds 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 they learned that their life depended on the Word of God (Cf. Deuteronomy 8:3).

Then the devil makes a second attempt (vv. 5-6); he becomes more astute, also quoting Sacred Scripture. The strategy is clear: if you have so much trust in God’s power, then experience it; in fact, Scripture itself affirms that the Angels will bear you up (v. 6). However, also, in this case, Jesus doesn’t let Himself be confused, because one who believes knows that God doesn’t put one to the test, but entrusts himself to His goodness. Therefore, to the words of the Bible, instrumentally interpreted by Satan, Jesus answers with another quotation: “It is also written: ’You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (v. 7).

Finally, the third attempt (vv. 8-9) reveals the devil’s real thought: because the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven marks the beginning of his defeat, the Evil One wants to divert Jesus from bringing His mission to fulfillment, offering Him a prospect of political messianism. However, Jesus rejects the idolatry of power and of human glory and, in the end, chases the tempter away, saying to him: “Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve’” (v. 10). And at this point, near Jesus, faithful to the Father’s order, Angels approach to minister to Him (Cf. v. 11).  This teaches us something: Jesus doesn’t dialogue with the devil. Jesus answers the devil with the Word of God, not with his word. Very often in temptation, we begin to dialogue with the temptation, to dialogue with the devil: “yes, but I can do this . . ., then I can go to confession, then this, then that . . .” Never dialogue with 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.

Today also Satan breaks into people’s life to tempt them with his enticing proposals; he mixes his voice with the many voices that seek to tame the conscience. Messages arrive from many parts that invite you to “let oneself be tempted” to experience the thrill of transgression.

Jesus’ experience teaches us that temptation is an attempt to follow alternative ways than those of God: “But, do this, there’s no problem, then God <will> forgive! But have a day of joy . . . “ “But it’s a sin!” — “No, it’s nothing.” They are alternative ways, ways that give us the sensation of self-sufficiency, of the enjoyment of life as an end in itself. However, all that is illusory: very soon we realize that the more we move away from God, the more we feel defenseless and helpless in face of the great problems of existence.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Him who crushed the head of the serpent, help us in this time of Lent to be vigilant in face of temptations, not to submit ourselves to an idol of this world, to follow Jesus in the fight against evil, and for us also to be winners as Jesus.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]


After the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I greet you all, faithful of Rome and pilgrims from Italy and from various countries. In particular, I greet the young people of Formentera, the faithful of Ostuni and those of the parish of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina in Rome. I wish for you all that the Lenten journey just begun is rich in fruits of Spirit and rich in good works.

I am somewhat saddened by the news arriving of so many displaced people. So many men, women, and children chased away because of the war, so many migrants that ask for refuge in the world, and help. In these days, it has become very strong. Let us pray for them.

I ask you also to remember in prayer the Roman Curia’s Spiritual Exercises, which begins this evening at Ariccia. Unfortunately, my cold constrains me not to participate this year: I will follow the meditations from here. I unite myself spiritually to the Curia and to all the people that are living moments of prayer, doing the Spiritual Exercises at home.

Have a good Sunday and enjoy your lunch!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
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Virginia Forrester

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