Pope: the devil pushes us to scorn those who are weak

“[W]hen we already desire to perform a good act, like an act of charity, we say ‘It’s the Holy Spirit inspiring me to do this’. And when we realise we harbour within ourselves the desire to attack someone because they are weak, we have no doubt: It is the devil.”


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The devil pushes us to scorn those who are weak, to humiliate them instead of consoling them, said Pope Francis in his homily in this morning’s Mass at Casa Santa Marta.

The Holy Father took his cue from the First Book of the prophet Samuel, which is about the latter’s parents, Elkanah and Hannah.

Elkanah had two wives. Hannah was barren; the other, Peninnah, had children. Instead of consoling Hannah, Peninnah did not miss an opportunity to scorn her and treat harshly, reminding her of her infertility.

In the Bible, Francis said, there are many stories of contempt for the weak, as in the case of Hagar and Sarah, Abraham’s two wives, one of whom was barren.

Scorn and contempt for the weak is also an attitude found among humans like in the case of Goliath vis-à-vis David, but also in Job’s and Tobias’s wives who belittled their suffering husbands.

“I ask myself: What is in these people? What is it in ourselves that pushes us to mock and mistreat others weaker than ourselves? It is understandable when a person resents someone stronger than them, perhaps as a result of envy . . . but towards the weak? What makes us do that? It is something habitual, as if I needed to ridicule another person in order to feel confident. As if it were a necessity . . .”.

This happens even among children, the pontiff noted.  Recalling his youth, he mentioned a woman, Angelina, who lived in his neighbourhood and suffered from a mental illness. She used to walk the streets all day. Local women would give her food to eat and clothes, but the children made fun of her. “Let’s find Angelina and have some fun,” they’d say.

“How much evil is there, even in children, that they treat the weak in this way!” Pope Francis lamented.

“And today we see it constantly in our schools: the phenomenon of bullying, attacking the weak, because you are fat or foreign, or because you’re black . . . Attacking and attacking . . . Children and young people, too.”

“It wasn’t just Peninnah, Hagar, or the wives of Tobias and Job: children too. This means there is something in us that makes us act aggressively toward the weak. I believe this is the trace of Original Sin.”

Why annihilate others? This is the work of Satan, according to Francis. Psychologists might explain this desire to annihilate others as caused by weakness, but "I believe it is a consequence of Original Sin. This is the work of Satan.” Satan, Francis said, has no compassion.

“And so, as when we already desire to perform a good act, like an act of charity, we say ‘It’s the Holy Spirit inspiring me to do this’. And when we realise we harbour in ourselves the desire to attack someone because they are weak, we have no doubt: It is the devil. Because attacking the weak is the work of Satan.”

In concluding, Pope Francis said, “Let us ask the Lord to give us the grace of God’s compassion. He is the One who has compassion for us and helps us move forward.”

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