On Saturday morning, Pope Francis presided over a Mass in the Chapel of the Governorate for the Corps of the Gendarmerie of Vatican City State, on the occasion of the feast of its Patron, Saint Michael the Archangel, September 29.
Here is a translation of the Pope’s homily in the course of the Holy Mass.
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The First Reading, taken from Revelation, begins with a strong word: ”War broke out in Heaven.” And then it says how this war is: it is the final war, the last war, the war of the end. It is the war between the Angels of God commanded by Saint Michael against Satan, the ancient serpent, the devil. This is the last one and everything ends there, only the Lord’s eternal peace remains with all his children who were faithful. However, throughout history this war has been waged every day, every day: it is waged in the heart of men and women, in the hearts of Christians and non-Christians. It is the war between good and evil, where we must choose what we want, good or evil. But the method of war, the methods of war of these two enemies are totally opposite.
In the initial prayer, in the Collect, we asked to be defended by the Archangel Michael against the “snares” of the demon, of the devil. And snares are one of the methods of the devil. He is a sower of snares, a seed of life never falls from his hands, a seed of unity – always snares, snares: it is his method, to sow snares. We pray to the Lord to protect us from this.
Then, in the First Reading, we heard about another method, another way of waging war, Satan who seduces. He is a seducer; he is one that sows snares and a seducer, and he seduces with fascination, with demonic fascination, leading one to believe everything. He knows how to sell with this fascination, he sells well, but in the end he pays badly! It is his method. We think of the first time that this lord appears in the Gospel; it is a dialogue with Jesus. Jesus was praying for forty days in the desert, fasting, and in the end he is rather tired and hungry. And [Satan} comes; he moves slowly as a serpent, and makes three proposals to Jesus: “If you are God, the Son of God, there are stones there, if you are hungry, make them be turn into bread”; “If you are the Son of God, why are you so tired? Come with me to the terrace of the Temple and throw yourself down, and people will see this miracle and without effort you will be recognized as the Son of God”; the devil tries to seduce him and, in the end, as he does not succeed in seducing him, the last [proposal]: “Let’s speak clearly, I will give you all the power of the world, but you must adore me. Let’s do business.”
[These are] the three steps of the method of the ancient serpent, of the demon: first, to have things, in this case bread, riches, riches that slowly lead one to corruption, and this issue of corruption is not a fairy tale! It is everywhere. Corruption is everywhere: many people sell their soul, sell their happiness, sell their life, sell everything for two cents. It is the first step: cents, riches. Then, when they have it, they feel important. The second step: vanity. What the devil said to Jesus: “Let’s go on the terrace of the Temple, throw yourself down, and make a great spectacle!” — to live for vanity. The third step: power, pride, arrogance: ”I will give you all the power of the world; you will be the one who commands.”
This always happens to us all in small things: we are too attached to riches, we are pleased when we are praised, like the peacock. And so many people become ridiculous, so many people. Vanity makes one become ridiculous. Or, in the end, when one has power, one thinks one is God, and this is the great sin.
This is our struggle, and therefore today we ask the Lord that, through the intercession of the Archangel Michael, we are defended from the snares, the fascination, the seductions of this ancient serpent who is called Satan.
You who work, who have a job that is a bit difficult, where there is always opposition and you must put things right and many times avoid offenses and crimes. Pray a lot so that, with the intercession of Saint Michael the Archangel, the Lord will defend you from every temptation, from every temptation to corruption for money, for riches, [temptation] to vanity and to arrogance. And, like Jesus, the more humble, the more humble your service is, the more fruitful and the more useful it will be for us all.
The humility of Jesus and, how do we see Jesus’ humility – and I end with this not to be too long – how do we see Jesus’ humility? If we go to the account of the temptation of Jesus, we never find a word of his. Jesus does not answer with his own words; he answers with the words of Scripture, all three times. It is what he teaches us. One cannot dialogue with the devil, and this helps so much when temptation comes: I won’t speak with you; only the Word of the Lord.
May the Lord help us in this struggle of every day, but not for ourselves; it is a struggle for service, because you are men and women of service: of service to society, of service to others, of service to make goodness grow in the world.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]