With Evil, No Dialogue

Pope Francis’ brief Angelus Address today contains a very important message for us all – whether for our daily struggle with evil, or our particular struggle during Lent. I am pleased to provide an English translation of what he said below:

“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God”

Dear brothers and sisters: good morning!

The gospel for the first Sunday of Lent each year presents the episode of the temptations of Jesus when, before he began his public mission, the Holy Spirit, having descended upon him after the baptism in the Jordan, drove him to confront Satan openly in the desert for 40 days.

The tempter seeks to turn Jesus away from the Father’s plan – that is, from the way of sacrifice and of the love that he himself offers in expiation – to make him take an easy path of success and power. The duel between Jesus and Satan takes place with shots of passages from Sacred Scripture. In effect, the devil – to turn Jesus away from the way of the Cross – indicates to him false messianic hopes: economic well-being, shown by the possibility of transforming stones into bread; showmanship and miracles, with the idea of throwing himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple of Jerusalem and having himself saved by angels; and, in the end, a shortcut to power and dominion, in exchange for an act of worshiping Satan. They are the three categories of temptations: we, too, know them well!

Jesus decisively rejects all of these temptations and reaffirms his steadfast will to follow the way set out by the Father, without any compromise with sin and the logic of the world. Note well how Jesus responds. He does not dialogue with Satan, as Eve had done in the earthly paradise. Jesus knows well that with Satan one cannot dialogue, because he is so cunning. Thus Jesus, instead of dialoguing, as Eve had done, chooses to take refuge in the Word of God and respond with the strength of this Word. Let us remember this: in the moment of temptation – in the moment when we are tempted – no arguing with Satan! Instead, always defending ourselves with the Word of God! And this will save us. In his responses to Satan, the Lord, using the Word of God, reminds us above all that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3). And this gives us strength and sustains us in the fight against the worldly mentality that reduces man to the level of basic needs, causing him to lose the hunger for that which is true, good, and beautiful – the hunger for God and for his love. Jesus also recalls that “it is also written: ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7), for the way of faith passes also through darkness and doubt, and it is fed by patience and persevering expectation. Lastly, Jesus recalls that “it is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship, and him alone you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:10); that is, we must rid ourselves of idols, of vain things, and build our lives on that which is essential.

These words of Jesus will later find confirmation in his actions. His absolute fidelity to the Father’s plan of love will lead him, after about three years, to the final showdown with the “prince of this world” (John 16:11) during the hour of the Passion and Cross, and Jesus there will score his definitive victory, the victory of love!

Dear brothers and sisters, the time of Lent is the favorable time for all of us to undertake a path of conversion, sincerely comparing ourselves with this page of the Gospel. Let us renew our baptismal promises: let us renounce Satan and all his works and his seductions – for he is a seducer – in order to follow the ways of God and “reach Easter in the joy of the Spirit” (Opening Prayer of the First Sunday of Lent, Year A, in the Italian Missal).

At the conclusion of the greetings that followed, the Holy Father asked for prayers for himself and the cardinals, bishops, and priests of the Roman Curia who will be leaving this afternoon for their week-long Lenten retreat.

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Translation by Fr. Bryan Jerabek, as the official English translation was not yet available. Source.

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