· The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta ·
Humility, meekness, love and the experience of the Cross are the means with which the Lord defeats evil. And the light that Jesus brought into the world dispels the blindness of human beings who are all too often dazzled by the false light of the world that is brighter but misleading. It is up to us to discern which light comes from God. This is the essence of the reflection given by Pope Francis this morning, Tuesday, 3 September, at the Mass he celebrated in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Commenting on the First Reading, the Holy Father reflected on the “beautiful words” that St Paul addressed to the Thessalonians: “You are not in darkness, brethren... you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness” (1 Thes 5:1-6, 9-11). What the Apostle wanted to say is clear, the Pope said: “the Christian identity is an identity of light, not darkness. And Jesus brought this light into the world. “St John”, Pope Francis explained, “tells us in the first chapter of his Gospel: ‘the true light’, he, Jesus... ‘was coming into the world’”. A light that “was not liked by the world”, but that nevertheless “saves us from the darkness, from the shadows of sin”. Today, the Pope continued, people think it is possible to obtain this light that bursts through the darkness by means of a great many scientific discoveries and other human inventions, thanks to which “everything may be known, we can possess knowledge of everything”. But “the light of Jesus”, Pope Francis warned, “is something else. It is not a light of ignorance, no, no! It is a light of knowledge, of wisdom. However is is something else. The light that the world offers us is an artificial light. It may be a strong light, stronger than Jesus’, don’t you think? As bright as a firework, as the flash used in photography. However Jesus’ light is a gentle light, a quiet light, a light of peace. It is like the light of Christmas Night: with no pretensions. That is how it is: it offers itself and gives peace. The light of Jesus is not ostentatious; it is a light that glows from the heart. It is true that the devil, and St Paul says so, very often comes dressed up as an angel of light. He likes to imitate the light of Jesus. He makes himself seem good and speaks to us like that, calmly, just as Jesus spoke after his fast in the wilderness: ‘if you are the Son of God, throw yourself down’ from the temple! Make a show of it! And he says so in a manner that is tranquil”, and hence deceptive.
For this reason Pope Francis recommended that we “ask the Lord insistently for the wisdom of discernment in order to recognize when it is Jesus who gives us light and when it is the devil himself, disguised as an angel of light. How many believe they live in light but they are in darkness and are unaware of it!”.
However what is the light that Jesus give us like? “We can recognize it”, the Holy Father explained, “because it is a humble light. It is not a light that imposes itself, it is humble. It is a meek light, with the power of meekness. It is a light that speaks to the heart and is also a light that offers the Cross. If we are meek in our inner light, we hear the voice of Jesus in our heart and look fearlessly at the Cross in the light of Jesus”. If, however, on the contrary we let ourselves be dazzled by a light that makes us feel safe and proud, and that brings us to look at others disdainfully, to look down on them with arrogance, we are certainly not in the presence of “the light of Jesus”. On the contrary it is “a light of the devil disguised as Jesus”, the Bishop of Rome said, “as an angel of, light. We must always make the distinction: where Jesus is there is always humility, meekness, love and the Cross. Indeed we shall never find Jesus without humility, without meekness, without love and without the Cross. He took this pathway of light first. We must follow behind him without fear”, for “Jesus has the power and authority to give us this light”. A power described in the Gospel passage of today’s liturgy in which Luke recounts the episode, in Capernaum, of chasing the demon out of the man possessed (cf. Lk 4:31-37). “The people”, the Pope underscored commenting on the Reading, “was overcome by fear and, the Gospel says, wondered: ‘what is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out’. Jesus had no need of an army to chase out demons, he had no need of pride, he had no need of force or arrogance”. What is this word “that commands unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out?”, the Pope asked himself. “It is a word”, was his answer, “ that is humble, meek and spoken with such great love”. It is a word that accompanies us in moments of suffering, that brings us close to the Cross of Christ. “Let us ask the Lord”, was Pope Francis’ concluding exhortation, “that he give us today the grace of his light and teach us to distinguish when the light is his light and when it is an artificial light fabricated by the enemy to deceive us”.
St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 18, 2020