In his daily Mass homily this morning in the chapel of the St. Martha Residence where he presently resides, Pope Francis warned that believers need to be wary of the tricks and wiles of Lucifer. “We must always be on guard,”the Pope preached, “on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil.” The Holy Father warned against those who would offer other explanations for God's obvious works, a temptation that vexes us even today.
“There are some priests who, when they read this Gospel passage, this and others, say: ‘But, Jesus healed a person with a mental illness.’”
“It is true that at that time, they could confuse epilepsy with demonic possession; but it is also true that there was the devil! And we do not have the right to simplify the matter. No!” Francis preached. “The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil.” The Holy Father warned that we should "not be naive" about the presence of the devil or "follow the victory of Jesus halfway."
“Either you are with me, says the Lord, or you are against me,” the Pontiff preached. “On this point, there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation; eternal salvation.” The Holy Father urged those present to guard themselves against the entreaties of Satan. “Do I guard myself, my heart, my feelings, my thoughts? Do I guard the treasure of grace? Do I guard the presence of the Holy Spirit in me? Or do I let go, feeling secure, believing that all is going well?”
“If you do not guard yourself, he who is stronger than you will come,” the Pope warned, “But if someone stronger comes and overcomes, he takes away the weapons in which one trusted, and he shall divide the spoil.”
The Holy Father said that there are three criteria to use in spiritual combat. “Jesus fights the devil: first criterion. Second criterion: he who is not with Jesus is against Jesus. There are no attitudes in the middle. Third criterion: vigilance over our hearts because the devil is astute. He is never cast out forever. It will only be so on the last day.”
“The Gospel today begins with the devil being cast out and ends with the devil coming back! These are not lies,” the Pope exclaimed, “it is the Word of the Lord!”
“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil! Please, let us not do business with the devil! He seeks to return home, to take possession of us… Do not relativize; be vigilant! And always with Jesus!”