Pope: Let’s thank God that some people are helping others amid the epidemic

The devil is responsible for the cruelty against the righteous and for anti-Christian persecution. “Let us think of how the devil treated Jesus with cruelty, but also persecuted Christians; how he tried the most sophisticated means to lead them to apostasy, to move away from God. This is, as we say in everyday language, diabolical; indeed, [it is a] diabolical mind.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the people helping others amid the ongoing epidemic. He spoke at the introduction to today’s morning Mass celebrated at Casa Santa Marta.

“Over the past few days, we have heard news about the many people who are starting to be generally concerned about others, who worry about families who do not have enough to live on, about seniors living alone, about the sick in hospital, who pray and try to get some help ... This is a good sign. Let us thank the Lord for stirring such sentiments in the hearts of his faithful.”

In his homily, commenting on the readings from the Book of Wisdom (2:1, 12-22) and from the Gospel of John (7:1-2, 10, 25-30), the pontiff focused on the cruelty of those who wanted to kill Jesus, stressing how this came from the devil, because the devil is behind every destructive cruelty. The answer to such cruelty is silence.

“The first reading is almost a (anticipated) report of what was going to happen to Jesus,” said Francis. “It is a pre-report; it is a prophecy. It looks like a historical description of what came next.”

The wicked try to ensnare the righteous one; they want to kill him. They say: “If, in fact, the righteous one is the son of God, he will come to his aid and free him from the hands of his enemies. Let's think about what they said to Jesus on the Cross: ‘If you are the Son of God, come down; let him come and save you.’ This was followed by an action plan: Let's put him to the test 'with outrages and torments so as to see his meekness and test his spirit of endurance, and condemn him to an infamous death for, according to his own words, help will come to him'.”

This “is prophecy, precisely of what happened. The Jews tried to kill him, says the Gospel. Then, they also tried to arrest him,” the Gospel does on to say, “'but nobody got their hands on him, because his time had not yet come'.”

“This prophecy is very detailed; the action plan of these evil people is a detail among others; let us hold back on anything. Let's test him with outrages and torments, and test the spirit of endurance ... Let us ensnare him, let us trick him (to see) if he falls ... This is not just hatred, there is no evil action plan – certainly – by one party against another: it is something else. This is called cruelty: [this] when the devil, who is behind every cruelty, tries to destroy and does not hold back on the means.”

“The devil is behind every cruelty in order to destroy God’s work. The devil may be behind an argument or an enmity, but from afar, with the usual temptations. But when there is cruelty, let us have no doubt: the devil is present. The cruelty may be very subtle. Let us think of how the devil treated Jesus with cruelty, but also [how he] persecuted Christians; how he used the most sophisticated means to lead them to apostasy, to move away from God. This is, as we say in ordinary language, diabolical; indeed, [it is a] diabolical mind.”

“The bishops from one the countries that endured the dictatorship of an atheist regime, told me that the rulers, in their persecution, went as far as follows: On the Monday after Easter teachers would ask the children: 'What did you eat yesterday?'. The children would say what they had for lunch. Some would say, 'Eggs'. Those who said 'eggs' were then pestered to see if they were Christian because they ate eggs on Easter Sunday in that country. [They would go] that far to see, spy, [find] Christians in order to kill them. This is persecutory cruelty; this is the devil.”

“And what do we do when faced with cruelty? Only two things can be done: Arguing with these people is not possible because they have their own set ideas, ideas that the devil has sown in their heart. We have heard what their action plan is. What can be done? What Jesus did: keep silent. It is surprising when we read in the Gospel that faced with all these accusations, all these things, Jesus kept silent. Faced with the spirit of cruelty, [we must offer] only silence, never justification. Never. Jesus spoke, he explained. When he realised that words didn’t matter, [he offered] silence. And in silence Jesus experienced his Passion.

“This is the silence the righteous person must offer in the face of cruelty. This is also true for, let's say, the small everyday cruelties, when some of us hear some gossip against ourselves, and things are said and nothing comes of it ... [In this case, we must] shut up; [offer] silence, endure and tolerate the cruelty of gossip. Gossiping is also a [form of] cruelty, a social cruelty: in society, in one’s neighbourhood, in the workplace, but always against ourselves. As a form of cruelty, it may not be as bad, but it is cruelty nonetheless, [meant] to destroy others because the latter are seen as a nuisance, as annoying.”

“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to fight against the evil spirit, to argue when we have to argue; but in the face of the spirit of cruelty, [to give us] the courage to keep quiet and let others speak. The same [goes] for the small everyday cruelty that is gossip: Let them speak, in silence before God.