At the Angelus Pope Francis says we should “always have the Bible close at hand”, open it "several times a day"; read "the messages of God" for strength in "spiritual warfare" against Satan during Lent. Tonight the Pope and the Curia begin the Lenten spiritual exercises.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - During Lent it is important to "become familiar with the Bible" and treat it as "we treat our cell phone." These are the tips that Pope Francis had for the pilgrims gathered today in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus prayer on the occasion of the first Sunday of Lent.
"During the forty days of Lent - said the pope - as Christians we are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and address the spiritual battle against evil with the power of the Word of God. This is why we have to become familiar with the Bible, read it often , meditate on it, assimilate it. The Bible contains the Word of God, which is always present and effective. Someone said: what would happen if we treated the Bible like we treat our cell phone? If more of us always carried it with us; if we went back when we forget it; if the opened it several times a day; to read the messages from God contained in the Bible just like we read the messages on our phone ... Clearly the comparison is paradoxical, but sobering. In fact, if we had the Word of God always in my heart, no temptation could turn me away from God and no obstacle would deflect us from the path of goodness; we would know to win the daily suggestions of the evil that is in us and around us; we would be better able to live a resurrected life in the Spirit, accepting and loving our brothers, especially the most vulnerable and needy, and even our enemies. "
Previously the Pope had stopped to consider the Gospel of today's liturgy (Matthew 4,1-11), which tells the temptations of Jesus in the desert. After his baptism, he explained, "Jesus is ready to begin his mission; and since he has a declared enemy, that is, Satan, he confronts him right away, 'in a melee'. The devil uses the title 'Son of God' to ward Jesus against taking up his mission: "If you are the Son of God ..." he repeats (v. 3.6), and calls on him to do miracles, to turn stones into bread to satisfy his hunger, and jump off the temple walls and be saved by angels. These two temptations are followed by a third: to worship him, the devil, to have dominion over the world (cf. v. 9). With this triple temptation, Satan wants to divert Jesus from the path of obedience and humiliation - because he knows that this is how evil will be defeated - and to take the false shortcut to success and glory. But the poisonous arrows of the devil are all 'deflected' by Jesus with the shield of the Word of God (vv. 4.7.10) that expresses the will of the Father. And so the Son, full of the Holy Spirit, emerges victorious from the desert. "
"May the Virgin Mary - he concluded - perfect icon of obedience to God and of unconditional trust to His will, sustain us on our Lenten journey, so that we place ourselves in docile listening to the Word of God to make a real change of heart."
After the Marian prayer, at the end of greetings to groups, the Pope recalled that tonight he and the Roman Curia will begin the traditional Lenten Spiritual Exercises.