ROME — Pope Francis urged Christians Sunday to discern carefully between God’s voice and the devil’s voice in their lives, insisting that Satan “seduces” while God “consoles.”
In his weekly streamed Regina Caeli address, the pope drew inspiration from the gospel reading for the day that presents Jesus as the Good Shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep and whose sheep recognize his voice.
“These different voices resonate within us. There is the voice of God, who kindly speaks to conscience, and there is the tempting voice that leads to evil,” Francis said.
“How can we discern the voice of the Good Shepherd from that of the thief, how can we distinguish the inspiration of God from the suggestion of the evil one?” he asked. “You can learn to discern these two voices: in fact, they speak two different languages, that is, they have opposite ways of knocking on our heart.”
The voice of the devil “seduces, assails, and forces; it arouses dazzling illusions, tempting but passing emotions,” the pope said. “At first it coaxes, making us believe we are omnipotent, but then leaves us empty inside and accuses us: ‘You are worthless.’”
“The voice of God, on the other hand, corrects us, with much patience, but always encourages us, consoles us: it always nourishes hope,” the pontiff continued. “The voice of God is a voice that opens new horizons while the voice of the evil one leads to a wall, to a dead end.”
Francis said that the devil seeks to distract people from living in the present by stoking fears of the future or sadness for the past.
“The voice of God, on the other hand, speaks in the present,” the pope said. “Now you can do good, now you can exercise the creativity of love, now you can give up the regrets and remorse that hold your heart prisoner.”
The two voices also raise different questions, he continued. God will encourage us to explore what is truly good for us, while Satan will urge us to simply ask what we feel like doing.
“The evil voice always revolves around the self, its drives, its needs, everything, and immediately. It is like children’s whims: I want everything and I want it now,” Francis said. “The voice of God, on the contrary, never promises cheap happiness. It invites us to go beyond our selves to find true good and peace.”
Finally, the pope concluded, the voice of God and that of the tempter seek different “environments” in which to speak.
“The enemy prefers darkness, falsehood, and gossip, while the Lord loves sunlight, truth, and sincere transparency,” Francis said.
At this time when many thoughts and worries lead us to into a time of self-examination, “let us pay attention to the voices that reach our heart,” he said. “Let us ask where they come from. Let us ask for the grace to recognize and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, who brings us out of the realm of selfishness and leads us to the pastures of true freedom.”