Offering his customary reflections on the Sunday Gospel before leading the recitation of the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis spoke about how Jesus in the desert was tempted by the devil, which means “divider,” as the devil always wants to create divisions. The Gospel reading on this first Sunday of Lent highlights the spiritual struggle Jesus and we all face in our daily lives of opposing temptation through our trust in God and with assistance from our knowledge of the Word of God.
The Pope pointed out how the devil tries to “divide” or separate Jesus from his union with the Father. Jesus received his baptism from John and was called by the Father “my beloved Son” with the Holy Spirit descending upon him in the form of a dove, the Pope recalled, showing the three divine Persons joined in love. Jesus came into the world to help us partake in this union of love, while the devil instead tries to divide Jesus from this unity and his mission of unity for us, the Pope went on to say.
Challenging the three “poisons”
The Pope then explained how the devil tries to take advantage of Jesus’ tiredness and hunger after fasting forty days by trying to administer three “poisons” to jeapardize his mission of unity. The poisons are: attachment, mistrust, and power, he explained, adding how insidious these dangerous temptations are: attachment to material goods when the devil tries to get Jesus to stop fasting and to transform the stones into bread; mistrust by trying to get Jesus to test the Father by throwing himself off the highest point of the temple in order to be saved; and finally power when the devil suggests Jesus take over wordly reigns.
Defeating the temptations
Jesus rejects and defeats the three temptations by avoiding any debate and discussion with the devil and by answering with the Word of God, the Pope underscored, noting the importance that you never discuss or dialogue with the devil. The three verses from sacred scripture that Jesus pronounces that oppose the three temptations speak of freedom from goods (cf. Dt 8:3), trust (cf. Dt 6:16), and service to God (cf. Dt 6:13).
In conclusion, the Pope suggested we reflect on how the Word of God guides our own lives and how it can help us in our spiritual struggles. If we have a recurring temptation, we should seek help from a verse of the Word of God that helps us, something we can remember, recite, and pray by “trusting in the grace of Christ,” he explained.