VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis spoke Thursday about the struggles inherent to the Christian life, and how temptation, while a normal part of trying to live virtuously, must be fought adamantly.
“That’s why St. Paul speaks of Christian life as a struggle: a daily struggle — a fight!” he said Jan. 19. “That’s why Jesus came: ‘to destroy Satan’s empire, the empire of evil.’”
In his homily at Santa Marta, Pope Francis reflected on how the day’s Gospel from St. Mark talks about crowds of people following Jesus.
“Why were the crowds attracted?” the Pope asked.
In the Gospels, it tells us that some are sick and want to be healed, he said. There were also some who liked to listen to Jesus’ preaching. But another answer is that they followed the Lord because the Father always leads us to his Son.
Jesus was moved by these people he saw as sheep without a shepherd, who are being led to him by the Holy Spirit, Francis said.
“May the Lord give us the grace to know how to discern what is going on in our hearts and to choose the right path upon which the Father draws us to Jesus.”
Commenting on the end of the Gospel, the Pope quoted the passage that says, “Whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God.’”
Frequently, when we try to approach God, “unclean spirits” try to stop us, he said, and “wage a war against us” through the temptation to sin.
But this temptation is an ordinary part of living a Christian life, he said. “A Christian life without temptations is not Christian. It is ideological; it is Gnostic; but it is not Christian.”