“We continue to pray for the sick of this epidemic. And today, in a special way, I would like to pray for the imprisoned, our brothers shut in prison. They are suffering and we must be close to them with prayer, so that the Lord may help them, console them in this difficult moment,” said Pope Francis.
Today, March 11, 2020, the third Mass was celebrated, presided over by the Holy Father and re-transmitted via streaming from the Chapel of Casa Santa Marta. Before beginning the Eucharistic Celebration, the Holy Father continued his prayer for the Coronavirus patients, with a special thought for prisoners.
The Pontiff them read the Antiphon: “Do not forsake me, O Lord! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!” (Psalm 38:21-22).
Seduction and Cruelty
In his homily, the Pontiff commented on the Readings of the day that talk about Jesus’ Passion. So he mentioned how it’s proper of the devil to destroy with a particular style: cruelty.
The Bishop of Rome pointed out that seduction exists, with which Satan wants to make us forsake the Cross, offering us a worldly spirit, power, vanity, but cruelty also exists, which entails destruction.
“May the Lord give us the grace to be able to discern when the spirit is around, who want to destroy us with cruelty, and when the same spirit wants to console us with the appearances of the world, with vanity. However, let’s not forget, when there is cruelty, there is hatred, the vengeance of the defeated devil. So it is, up to today, in the Church.”
In this connection, the Holy Father invited to think of the many Christians that are “cruelly persecuted” today, recalling the example of Asia Bibi, who experienced “nine years of prison, suffering, sign of the devil’s cruelty.
Finally, he asserted that the “Lord gives us the grace to discern the Lord’s way, which is the Cross, the way of the world, which is vanity, appearance, makeup.”
Here is a translation of the transcription of the Pope’s homily made by the Italian edition of “Vatican News.”
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The Holy Father’s Homily
The first Reading, a passage of the prophet Jeremiah, is really a prophecy about the Lord’s Passion. What do the enemies say? “Come, let us hinder him when he speaks; let’s not pay attention to all his words. Let’s put obstacles in his way. It doesn’t say: let us defeat him, kill him, no; make his life difficult, torment him. It’s the suffering of the prophet, but there is a prophecy there about Jesus.
In the Gospel, Jesus Himself speaks to us about this: “Behold that we go up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes. They will condemn him to death; they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked, scourged <and> crucified.” It’s not only a death sentence: there is more. There is humiliation, cruelty. And when there is cruelty in the persecution of a Christian, of a person, the devil is there. The devil has two styles: seduction, with the promises of the world, as he wished to do with Jesus in the desert, to seduce Him, and with the seduction to make Him change the plan of redemption, and, if that didn’t work, cruelty. The devil has no middle term. His pride is so great that he tries to destroy and destroy, enjoying the destruction with cruelty.
Let us think of the persecutions of so many Saints, of so many Christians that not (only) are killed, but they make them suffer and try by all means to humiliate them, until the end. Do not confuse a simple social, political, religious persecution with the devil’s cruelty. The devil rages to destroy. Let us think of the Apocalypse: he wants to devour the child about to be born of the woman.
The two thieves who were crucified with Jesus were condemned, crucified and were left to die in peace. No one insulted them; they weren’t interested. The insult was only for Jesus, against Jesus. Jesus says to the Apostles that He will be sentenced to death <and> will be mocked, scourged <and> crucified . . . They ridicule Him. And the way to come out of the devil’s cruelty, of this destruction, is the worldly spirit, what the mother asks for her sons, the sons of Zebedee. Jesus speaks of humiliation, which is His own destiny, and there they ask Him for appearance, power. Vanity, the worldly spirit is precisely the way that the devil offers to forsake the Cross of Christ. One’s own fulfilment, having a career, worldly success: all are un-Christian ways. All are ways to cover Jesus’ Cross.
May the Lord give us the grace to be able to discern where the spirit is, that wishes to destroy us with cruelty, and when the same spirit wants to console us with the appearances of the world, with vanity. However, let’s not forget: when there is cruelty, there is hatred, the defeated devil’s vengeance. So it is up to today in the Church. Let us think of the many Christians that are so cruelly persecuted. In these days, the newspapers are talking about Asia Bibi: nine years in prison, suffering. It’s the devil’s cruelty.
May the Lord give us the grace to discern the way of the Lord, which is the Cross, the way of the world, which is vanity, appearance, makeup.