Vatican City, Jan 28, 2024 / 12:18 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis warned on Sunday that the devil wants to “chain our souls” and enslave us with many temptations, while “Jesus came to free us from all of these chains.”
In his Angelus address on Jan. 28, the pope said that “the devil always takes away your freedom” and named some of the temptations that the evil one uses to ensnare us.
Pope Francis encouraged people to learn how to “say ‘no’ to the temptations of evil before they creep into the soul” by invoking the name of Jesus.
When facing a temptation, do not attempt to “negotiate with the devil,” Pope Francis said.
“We must call on Jesus,” he underlined. “Call on him where we feel the chains of evil and fear tighten most strongly.”
“There are many chains in our life,” the pope explained.
“I am thinking of addictions, which enslave [so we are] always dissatisfied, and devour energy, goods, and affections; I am thinking of dominant fashions, which push us toward impossible perfectionism, consumerism, and hedonism, which commodify people and spoil their relationships.”
“And other chains: There are the temptations and conditioning that undermine self-esteem, serenity, and the ability to choose and love life,” he said.
Pope Francis added that another chain is “fear, which makes one look at the future with pessimism and impatience, which always casts blame on others.”
He said that “the idolatry of power” is a “very ugly chain” that creates conflicts and can lead to weapons that kill, the manipulation of thought, or economic injustices.
“And Jesus came to free us from all these chains,” Pope Francis said.
“Jesus has the power to cast out the devil. Jesus frees us from the power of evil.”
In his reflection on Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Francis described how Jesus freed a person possessed by an “evil spirit” in Mark’s Gospel, noting that the possession tormented her and caused her to scream.
“This is what the devil does: He wants to possess us in order to ‘chain our souls,’” he said.
Pope Francis noted that in the Gospel, Jesus casts out the devil, “but does not dialogue with him,” noting that during the temptation in the desert, Jesus only answered with words from Scripture.
“The Lord, with the strength of his Spirit, wishes to repeat to the evil one today too: ‘Go away! Leave that heart alone. Do not divide the world, families, communities; let them live peacefully, so that the fruits of my Spirit may flourish, not yours,’ so says Jesus, ‘so that love, joy, meekness may reign among them, and instead of violence and cries of hatred there may be freedom and peace.’”
“So let’s ask ourselves: Do I really want freedom from those chains that tighten my heart? … Do I invoke Jesus, do I allow him to act in me, to heal me inside? May the Holy Virgin protect us from evil,” he said.
Speaking from a window in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace to the crowd gathered below in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine, Palestine, and Israel.
Pope Francis made an impassioned plea for reconciliation in Myanmar, marking three years since the country’s military coup.
“For three years now, the crying of pain and the noise of weapons have taken the place of the smile that characterizes the population of Myanmar. I therefore join the voice of some Burmese bishops, ‘so that the weapons of destruction are transformed into tools for growth in humanity and justice,’” he said.
“Peace is a path and I invite all parties involved to take steps of dialogue and to clothe themselves with understanding, so that the land of Myanmar reaches the goal of fraternal reconciliation. The transit of humanitarian aid is allowed to guarantee the necessities of every person.”
Pope Francis also expressed his closeness to the Catholic community in Istanbul, where one man died in an armed attack during Sunday Mass.
The pope added that he was relieved to hear of the release of six religious sisters who were kidnapped in Haiti last week and called for an end to all acts of violence in the country, urging the international community to support Haiti’s peaceful development.