Says it is the devil who is behind the “growing wave of destruction” we see today
This was Pope Francis’ reflection this morning at Mass in Casa Santa Marta, as he reflected on the First Reading, where St. Peter says, “Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you.”
Today, said Pope Francis, we are not only witnessing the persecution of Christians, but of every man and woman, “through cultural colonization, war, hunger, and slavery.”
The pontiff explained how for the Christian, persecution is part of life.
“Persecution is rather like the ‘air’ that Christians breathe even today. Because even today there are many martyrs, many people who are persecuted for their love of Christ. There are many countries where Christians have no rights. If you wear a cross, you go to jail. And there are people in jail. There are people condemned to death today simply because they are Christians. The number of people killed is higher than the number of early martyrs. It’s higher! But this doesn’t make news. Television newscasts and newspapers don’t cover these things. Meanwhile Christians are being persecuted.”
But Christians aren’t the only ones persecuted by the devil. Satan persecutes all men, the Holy Father explained, because all of us are made in the image of God.
“The Devil is behind every persecution, both of Christians and all human beings. The Devil tries to destroy the presence of Christ in Christians, and the image of God in men and women. He tried doing this from the very beginning, as we read in the Book of Genesis: he tried to destroy that harmony that the Lord created between man and woman, the harmony that comes from being made in the image and likeness of God. And he succeeded. He managed to do it by using deception, seduction…the weapons he uses. He always does this. But there is a powerful ruthlessness against men and women today: otherwise how to explain this growing wave of destruction towards men and women, and all that is human?”
The persecutions of mankind
For example, Pope Francis described hunger as an “injustice” that “destroys men and women because they have nothing to eat,” even if there is a lot of food available in the world.
He went on to speak of human exploitation, of different forms of slavery, and recalled how he recently saw a film shot inside a prison where migrants are locked up and tortured to turn them into slaves. This is still happening, he said, “70 years after the Declaration of Human Rights.”
The pope also reflected on cultural colonization. This is exactly what the Devil wants, he said, “to destroy human dignity” – and that is why the Devil is behind all forms of persecution.
“Wars can be considered a kind of instrument to destroy people, who are made in the image of God. But so are the people who make war, who plan war in order to exercise power over others. There are people who promote the arms industry to destroy humanity, to destroy the image of man and woman, physically, morally, and culturally… Even if they are not Christians, the Devil persecutes them because they are the image of God. We must not be ingenuous. In the world today, all humans, and not only Christians are being persecuted, because the Father of all persecutions cannot bear that they are the image and likeness of God. So he attacks and destroys that image.”
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