Pope, suffering from cold, will not take part in spiritual exercises

At the Angelus, Pope Francis expressed "sadness" over the situation of civilians in northern Syria and the refugees that Turkey is sending to Europe.  The commentary of Jesus' temptations in the desert.  "Never talk to the devil".  "The further we are from God, the more defenseless and helpless we feel in the face of the great problems of existence."  The help of the Virgin Mary, "the Mother of He who crushed the head of the snake".

 

 


Vatican City (AsiaNews) - At the end of the Angelus prayer with the faithful in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis announced that "this cold will not permit me to participate in the spiritual exercises" for all the Roman curia, that begin this evening in Ariccia.  Francis said he will follow the sermons - given by the Jesuit Pietro Bovati, Secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission - from the Vatican.  In recent days the pontiff had canceled some audiences because of a "slight indisposition".  Some media had carried reports full of fears (and fake news) that the pontiff was ill with coronavirus.

Previously, the Pope commented on the Gospel of today's mass, the first Sunday of Lent (A, Matthew 4,1-11) which recounts the temptations of Jesus in the desert, in which "the tempter, the devil, ... attempts  three times to put Jesus in difficultly”.

"The first temptation is inspired by the fact that Jesus is hungry, and he suggests to him:" “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” But christ's response is clear, he says “It is written: One does not live on bread alone,but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”" (4: 4).  He refers to Moses when he reminds the people of the long journey made in the desert, in which he learned that his life depends on the Word of God (cf. Dt 8,3) ".

"The devil makes a second attempt (vv. 5-6), he becomes more astute, also citing Holy Scripture.  The strategy is clear: if you have so much confidence in the power of God, then experience it, in fact the Scripture itself states that you will be helped by the angels (v. 6).  But even in this case Jesus does not allow himself to be confused, because whoever believes knows that God does not test him, but entrusts himself to His goodness.  Therefore to the words of the Bible, exploted when interpreted by Satan, Jesus replies with another quote: "“Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test." (v. 7) ".

 “Finally, the third attempt (vv. 8-9) reveals the devil's true intentions: since the coming of the Kingdom of heaven marks the beginning of his defeat, the evil one would like to divert Jesus from carrying out his mission, offering him a  perspective of political messianism.  But Jesus rejects the idolatry of power and human glory and, in the end, drives away the tempter by saying: "Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” (v. 10).  And at this point, near Jesus, faithful to the Father, angels come to serve him (cf. v. 11) ".

This teaches us one thing: Jesus does not dialogue with the devil.  Jesus responds to the devil with the word of God ... Never dialogue with the devil.  Jesus does two things with the devil: he chases him away or answers with the word of God ”.

“Even today - concluded Francis - Satan breaks into people's lives to tempt them with his tempting proposals;  he mixes his with the many voices that try to tame the conscience.  Messages come from many quarters inviting us "to be tempted" to experience the thrill of transgression.  The experience of Jesus teaches us that temptation is the attempt to take alternative paths to those of God, ... paths that give us the feeling of self-sufficiency, of the enjoyment of life as an end in itself.  But all this is illusory: soon we realize that the more we distance ourselves from God, the more we feel defenseless and helpless in the face of the great problems of existence.  May the Virgin Mary, the Mother of He who crushed the head of the serpent, help us in this time of Lent to be vigilant in the face of temptations, not to submit to any idol of this world, to follow Jesus in the fight against evil;  and we too will win like Jesus ”.

At the time of the greetings, Francis wished "to all that the Lenten journey, which has just begun, be rich in spiritual fruits and works of good".  And immediately afterwards he added: "I am a little saddened by the news that is arriving of so many displaced people - men, women, children - driven away because of the war and many migrants asking for help. In these days it has become very urgent.  Let us pray for them."  In all certainty the Pope is refering to the situation in northern Syria, where many civilians flee to Turkey due to the attack by the Syrian army on Idlib.  Ankara, for its part, has decided to open its borders to allow refugees pour into Europe.  But many hundreds who managed to reach the Greek border were repelled with tear gas.

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