“Satan always seeks to destroy man,” said Pope Francis this morning during the homily at Mass, on a day when the Catholic church celebrates the feast of the archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. “He looks to destroy humanity, all of us.”
According to the Catholic Catechism, “Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who have freely refused to serve God and his plan” (n. 414).
The liturgical readings this morning all had to do with angels, and were taken from the book of Daniel, the Apocalypse, and Saint John’s Gospel: the vision of heavenly glory, the battle between Michael and his angels against the devil, and Jesus’ promise to Nathanael: “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
But the Pope spent most of the time speaking about the devil.
Why does Satan hate mankind so much? “Maybe out of envy,” says the Pope. “We read in Psalm 8 that ‘you have made man superior to the angels,’ and the angel’s great intelligence couldn’t shoulder that humiliation, that an inferior creature should become superior,” suggested Francis. “That’s why he wants to destroy us.”
“So many projects that dehumanize man,” the Pope went on, “are the devil’s work, simply because he hates man. He is astute–we read it on the first page of Genesis. He presents things as if they were good. But his intention is destruction.”
But it is the angels, said the Pope, who defend us. “This is why the Church honors the angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God–they are the glory of God–because they defend the great, hidden mystery of God, that is, the Word made flesh.”
Satan, on the other hand, in his destructive plans, invents “humanistic rationalizations that go against man; they go against humanity and against God.”
This was not the first time in his pontificate that Francis made reference to the devil and his works. This past August, during a general audience, he had told crowds that division in a Christian community is a very grave sin, because “it is the work of the devil.” And earlier this summer he had called the devil a “troublemaker,” who always seeks “to make us hate,” because “he doesn’t know love.”
Christians must have the courage to fight him, said the Pope.
“Combat is a daily reality in the Christian life: in our heart, in our life, in our family, in our nation, in our churches … If we don’t fight, we will be defeated.”
In conclusion, the Pope invited all to pray to the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael and to “recite that ancient, beautiful prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, asking him to continue fighting to defend the greatest mystery of humanity, that of the Word made flesh, who died and rose again. This is our treasure. May he keep fighting to keep it safe.”