On the first Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis warned of three “widespread and dangerous temptations” that the devil uses to separate us from God and divide us from each other.
In his Angelus address on Feb. 26, the pope said that the devil uses three “powerful poisons” to attack and divide Christian communities: attachment to material things, mistrust, and the thirst for power.
“[These] are three widespread and dangerous temptations that the devil uses to divide us from the Father and to make us no longer feel like brothers and sisters among ourselves, to lead us to solitude and desperation. This is what he wanted to do to Jesus and what he wants to do to us, to lead us to despair,” Francis said.
The pope pointed to the Gospel of Matthew to offer advice for how to overcome the three types of temptations, as Jesus did when he was tempted by the devil after 40 days of fasting in the desert.
“Jesus defeats the temptations. But how does he conquer them? By avoiding discussion with the devil and responding with the Word of God,” he said.
Pope Francis explained that Jesus resisted the devil “by opposing him in faith with the Divine Word.”
To counteract the temptations of attachment to material things, mistrust, and the thirst for power, Jesus quotes three phrases from Scripture that speak of freedom from goods, trust, and service to God.
“In this way, Jesus teaches us to defend unity with God and among ourselves from the attacks of the divider,” he said.
🎥VIDEO | Pope Francis reminds us that we cannot negotiate or converse with the devil. We defeat him through faith in the divine Word. Let us defend unity with God and each other from the attacks of the divider. pic.twitter.com/U8nTTEPPvu
— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) February 27, 2023
The pope encouraged people to turn to the Word of God in their spiritual struggles and in times of temptation.
“If I have a vice or a recurring temptation, why not obtain help by seeking out a verse of the Word of God that responds to that vice?” he said. “Then, when temptation comes, I recite it, I pray it, trusting in the grace of Christ.”
“May Mary, who welcomed the Word of God and with her humility defeated the pride of the divider, accompany us in the spiritual struggle of Lent,” he said.
After Pope Francis prayed the Angelus in Latin with the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square, he asked people to pray for the Holy Land, Burkina Faso, Ukraine, Syria, and Turkey.
“Dear brothers and sisters, painful news is still coming from the Holy Land, where so many people have been killed, even children,” the pope said.
“How to stop this spiral of violence? I renew my call for dialogue to prevail over hatred and revenge, and I pray to God for the Palestinians and Israelis to find the path of fraternity and peace with the help of the international community.”
The pope also said that he was pained to hear on Sunday morning of a migrant boat shipwreck on the coast of southern Italy. At least 43 people died in the shipwreck on Feb. 26 near Steccato di Cutro in Calabria. Eighty people survived, according to Reuters, and the coast guard is still searching for survivors.
“This morning I learned with sorrow of the shipwreck that occurred on the Calabrian coast near Crotone. Already 40 dead have been recovered, including many children. I pray for each of them, for the missing, and for the other surviving migrants,” the pope said.
“I thank those who have brought relief and those who are giving shelter. May Our Lady support these brothers and sisters of ours.”