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The persecution instigated by the prince of this world

· The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta ·

Christians are persecuted today more than at the start of Christianity. The originating cause of every persecution is the hate of the prince of the world towards those who have been saved and redeemed by Jesus through his death and resurrection. The only weapon by which we can defend ourselves is the word of God, humility and meekness.

This morning again, Saturday 4 May, Pope Francis pointed to the path we must take to disentangle ourselves from the snares of the world. These snares, he explained in his homily at mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, are works of the devil, “the prince of the world”, “the spirit of the world”.

“So many Christian communities,” he said, “are persecuted throughout the world. In this time more than in the early times, no? Today, now, this day, this hour. Why? But why does the spirit of the world hate?”.  Persecution usually comes after a long road. “Think,” urged Pope Francis, “how the prince of the world tried to trick Jesus in the desert”, tempting especially his vanity. “Jesus  never answered this prince with his own words but with the word of God”. This message the Pope said was for man today: “you cannot dialogue with the prince of the world”. Dialogue is “necessary between us”, he explained, “necessary for peace. Dialogue is a habit, it is precisely and attitude that we must have among us, to hear one another, to understand one another. It is must always be maintained. Dialogue is born of charity, of love. But with that prince though, you cannot dialogue; you can only answer him with the Word of God who who defends us”. The prince of the world, Francis warned, “hates us. And what he did with Jesus, he will do with us”. With a little word here, a trifle there, “he will lead us down a path of injustice”. It begins with the little things, “softening us” to the point that “we fall into the trap. Jesus tell us 'I send you like lambs in the midst of wolves'.  Be prudent, but simple.”

Jesus is meek and humble of heart. And “today,” he ended, “this makes one thing of that hate that the prince of the world has against us, against the followers of Jesus”. And let us ponder the weapons that we have to defend ourselves: “let us remain lambs forever, because then we will have a shepherd to defend  us”.

Concelebrating with the Pope this morning was Bishop  Santiago Olivera of Cruz del Eje, Argentina. Among those present were a second group of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, accompanied by the Commandant Daniel Rudolf Anrig and the chaplain Mons. Alain de Raemy.

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