ROME — Pope Francis told pilgrims Sunday that according the Bible, “the life of Christians is a military undertaking: fighting against the evil spirit, fighting against Evil.”
In the gospel reading, Jesus begins to speak to his disciples about his passion and death, telling them he will have to “suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised,” the pope noted.
At this, Peter resists and says to Him: “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” Although Peter believes in Jesus, he “does not accept that His glory will pass through the Passion,” Francis added.
Jesus responds to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men,” the pope noted, because it is “typical of the evil spirit, it is typical of the devil to make us stray from the cross, from the cross of Jesus.”
At this point, Jesus adds: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
This is “not just a matter of patiently enduring daily tribulations, but of bearing with faith and responsibility that part of toil, and that part of suffering that the struggle against evil entails,” Francis said.
“The life of Christians is always a struggle,” he added. “The Bible says that the life of Christians is a military undertaking: fighting against the evil spirit, fighting against Evil.”
In this way, the task of “taking up the cross” becomes a participation with Christ in the salvation of the world, he declared.