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VATICAN CITY — Christians should care about reading God's messages in the Bible as much as they care about checking messages on their cellphones, Pope Francis said.
As Christ did in the desert when tempted by Satan, men and women can defend themselves from temptation with the word of God if they "read it often, meditate on it and assimilate it" into their lives, the pope said before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square March 5.
"What would happen if we turned back when we forget it, if we opened it more times a day, if we read the messages of God contained in the Bible the way we read messages on our cellphones?" the pope asked the crowd.
The pope's reflection centered on the day's Gospel reading (Matthew 4:1-11) in which Jesus is tempted by the devil while fasting in the desert before beginning His ministry.
Satan, he said, attempts to dissuade Jesus from fulfilling His message and to undermine His divinity by tempting Him to perform miracles like "a magician" and by adoring "the devil in order to have dominion over the world."
"Through this triple temptation, Satan wants to divert Jesus from the path of obedience and humiliation — because he knows that through that path evil will be defeated — and take Him on the false shortcut of success and glory," the pope said.
However, Jesus deflects "the poisonous arrows of the devil" not with His own words but "only with the Word of God."
Christians, the pope continued, are called to follow Jesus' footsteps and "confront the spiritual combat against the evil one" through the power of God's word which has the "strength to defeat Satan."
"The Bible contains the word of God, which is always relevant and effective. Someone once said: What would happen if we treated the Bible like we treated our cellphones? What would happen if we always brought it with us, or at least a small pocket-sized Gospel?" he asked.
While the comparison between the Bible and a cellphone is "paradoxical," he added, it is something that all Christians are called to reflect on during the Lenten season.
"If we have the Word of God always in our hearts, no temptation could separate us from God and no obstacle would deviate us from the path of good," the pope said.
Lent, he said, "is the path of the people of God toward Easter, a path of conversion, of fighting evil with the weapons of prayer, fasting and works of charity," Pope Francis said. "I wish everyone a fruitful Lenten journey," he said.
VATICAN CITY — Humility is needed in order to recognize the voice of God in others, especially those who are perceived to be weak or subject to prejudice, a Franciscan friar told Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia on their Lenten retreat.
God not only speaks through Jesus, but also speaks to Him through Peter, who recognizes Christ as the Messiah "by revelation," Franciscan Father Giulio Michelini said March 6, according to Vatican Radio.
"Do I have the humility to listen to Peter? Do we have the humility to listen to one another, paying attention to prejudices that we certainly have, but attentive to receive that which God wants to say despite — perhaps — my closures? Do I listen to the voice of others, perhaps weak, or do I only listen to my voice?" he asked.
The pope and top members of the Roman Curia attended their annual Lenten retreat March 5-10 at the Pauline Fathers' retreat center in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome.
Father Michelini was chosen by Pope Francis to lead meditations on the Gospel of Matthew's description of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
The Franciscan delivered two meditations March 6, with the first reflecting on "Peter's confession and Jesus' path toward Jerusalem."
According to Vatican Radio, Father Michelini called on the 74 people present for the retreat to reflect on the criteria on which they base their discernment and whether "I place myself and my personal benefit before the kingdom of God."
To listen and act upon God's will, he said, Christians must have "courage to go into the deep to follow Jesus Christ, taking into account that this involves carrying the cross."
Jesus, he added, not only proclaimed the joy of the resurrection "but also trial" when He said "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service
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