ROME — The devil always goes to extremes in his attacks on Christians, Pope Francis said Wednesday, either through the soft sell of worldly glory and comfort or the violence of enraged persecution.
In his live-streamed morning Mass at the chapel of his Santa Marta residence in the Vatican, Pope Francis prayed for victims of the coronavirus, while focusing in his homily on the works of the devil.
“The devil has two strategies: the seduction of worldly promises, and when this fails, that of rage,” the pope said.
The first ploy attempted by Satan to separate us from Christ will always be that of a “worldly spirit,” Francis said, where he offers “self-realization, careerism, and worldly success, as ways to cover up the cross of Jesus.”
When this strategy fails, the devil often turns to violence and fury, the pontiff continued.
We see this in Christ’s passion where there is not merely a death sentence, but “there is more, there is humiliation, there is rage. And when there is fury in the persecution of a Christian, the devil is present,” he said.
And so the two thieves crucified with Jesus are “condemned and crucified, but then left to die in peace. Instead, the insults only fall on Jesus.”
“The devil knows no middle ground,” the pope said. “His pride is so great that he enjoys destroying with rage. Think of the persecution of so many saints, so many Christians, whom he does not kill, but he makes them suffer, and tries by every means to humiliate them to the end.”
As an example of this rage in the persecution of Christians, Francis offered the example of the Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who spent “nine years in prison, suffering the rage of the devil.”
“May the Lord give us the grace to be able to recognize that spirit that wants to destroy us with fury and when that same spirit wants to console us with worldly appearances, with vanity,” Francis said. “May the Lord give us the grace to discern the path of the Lord, which is the cross, from the path of the world, which is vanity, appearances, window-dressing.”