ANGELUS ADDRESS: Facing the Lenten Spiritual Combat with the Strength of the Word of God

‘It is necessary to draw confidence from the Bible: to read it often, meditate on it and assimilate it’

Angelus 30 August 2015

PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO

Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Before the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In this first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel introduces us on the path towards Easter, showing Jesus, who stays forty days in the desert, subjected to the devil’s temptations (cf. Matthew 4:1-11). This episode is placed in a specific moment of Jesus’ life: immediately after His Baptism in the river Jordan and before His public ministry. He has just received His solemn investiture: the Spirit of God descended on Him, the Father of heaven declared Him: ”This is my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17). Jesus is now ready to begin His mission; and because it has a declared enemy, namely Satan, He confronts him immediately, body to body.” In fact, the devil appeals to His title of “Son of God,” to dissuade Jesus from carrying out His mission: “If you are the Son of God . . .”, he repeats to Him (vv. 3.6), and he suggests that He engage miraculous gestures — to be a “magician” — such as transforming the stones into bread to satiate His hunger, and throwing Himself  from the wall of the Temple, having the Angels rescue Him. These two temptations are followed by a third: to adore him, the devil, to have dominion over the world (cf. v. 9).

Through this threefold temptation, Satan wants to divert Jesus from the way of obedience and humiliation – because he knows that, through this way, evil will thus be defeated – and lead Him on the false shortcut of success and glory. However, the devil’s poisonous arrows are all “stopped” with the shield of the Word of God (vv. 4.7.10), which expresses the Father’s will. Jesus does not say a single word of his own: He responds only with the Word of God. And thus the Son, full of the strength of the Holy Spirit, comes out victorious from the desert.

As Christians we are invited, during the forty days of Lent, to follow in Jesus steps and face the spiritual combat against the Evil One with the strength of the Word of God. Not with our word, which is useless. The Word of God: that which has the strength to defeat Satan. Therefore, it is necessary to draw confidence from the Bible: to read it often, meditate on it and assimilate it. The Bible contains the World of God, which is always timely and effective. Someone said: what would happen if we treated the Bible as we treat our mobile phone? If we always carried it with us, or at least a small pocket Bible, what would happen? If we went back when we forgot it: you forgot your mobile phone – O, I don’t have it, I’ll go back to find it; if we opened it several times a day; what would happen if we read God’s messages contained in the Bible as we read our phone messages? The paragon is clearly paradoxical, but it makes us reflect. In fact, if we had the Word of God always in the heart, no temptation would be able to estrange us from God  and no obstacle would be able to make us deviate from the path of goodness; we would be able to overcome the daily suggestions of evil that are in us and outside of us; we would be more capable of living a resurrected life according to the Spirit, receiving and loving our brothers, especially the weakest and neediest, and also our enemies.

May the Virgin Mary, perfect icon of obedience to God and of unconditional trust in His will, sustain us on our Lenten journey, so that we place ourselves in docile listening to the Word of God, to undertake a true conversion of the heart.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

*

After the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I extend a warm greeting to the families, the parish groups, the Associations and all the pilgrims from Italy and from various countries. I greet the faithful from the dioceses of Madrid, Cordoba and Warsaw, as well as those from Belluno and Mestre. I greet the youngsters of the deanery of Baggio (Milan) and the participants in the meeting promoted by the Maestre Pie Filippini.

A few days ago we began Lent, which is the journey of the People of God toward Easter, a journey of conversion, of struggle against evil with the weapons of prayer, fasting and works of charity. I hope that the Lenten journey is rich in fruits for all; and I ask you to remember me and my collaborators of the Roman Curia in prayer, who this evening will begin the week of Spiritual Exercises — my heartfelt thanks for this prayer.

And please, don’t forget – don’t forget! – what would happen if we treated the Bible as we treat our mobile phone. Think about it — the Bible always with us, close to us!

Have a good Sunday! Have a good lunch and see you soon.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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