Pope calls for less Christmas spending and more closeness to those suffering in Ukraine
At the end of today's general audience, Francis called on the faithful to pick “humbler gifts” and devote the savings to solidarity. In his catechesis he addressed the topic of vigilance: “When we trust too much in ourselves and not in God’s grace, then the Evil One finds the door open.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis spoke to the faithful in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican at the end of the Wednesday general audience, urging them to have “a humbler Christmas, with humbler gifts” and send the savings “to the needy Ukrainian people”.
The pontiff renewed his call for “closeness to the martyred Ukrainian people, persevering in the fervent prayer for our brothers and sisters who suffer so much.” Indeed, “There is so much suffering.”
People “are hungry, feel the cold, and many die because there are no doctors and nurses”. For this reason, he urged the faithful to heed the message of solidarity that Jesus brings to everyone at Christmas and take concrete actions.
"It's nice to celebrate Christmas and the holidays,” Francis noted, “but cut back on Christmas spending, as it were. Let us experience a Christmas in peace with the Lord, but with Ukrainians in our hearts."
Earlier, as he continued his catechesis on the topic of discernment, the Holy Father focused on vigilance; such “an attitude [is] essential if all the work done to discern for the best and take the good decision is not to be lost”.
Yet, even in discernment there is a risk that “the Evil One, can ruin everything, making us go back to the beginning, indeed, in an even worse condition.”
This is a spiritual, not a psychological risk, “a real snare of the evil spirit. Indeed, he awaits precisely the moment in which we are too sure of ourselves”; indeed, “when everything is going well, when things are going ‘swimmingly’ and we ‘have the wind in ours sails’.”
Francis cites a parable from the Gospel (Mt 12:43-45) in which Jesus speaks of the impure spirit who, when it returns to the house from which it came, finds it “so tidy and clean” and dwells therein with “seven other spirits more evil than himself”.
“But how is it possible, we wonder, for them to enter undisturbed? How come the master does not notice? Was he not so good at discerning [. . .]?”
Francis warns that perhaps, the master “had fallen too much in love with the house, that is, with himself, and had stopped waiting for the Lord, waiting for the coming of the Bridegroom; perhaps for fear of ruining that order he no longer welcomed anyone, he did not invite the poor, the homeless, those who disturbed”.
“One thing is certain: here bad pride is involved, the presumption of being right, of being good, of being in order [. . .]. When we trust too much in ourselves and not in God’s grace, then the Evil One finds the door open.”