“There is an evil in our life, which is an indisputable presence,” Pope Francis told pilgrims Wednesday as he continued his reflections on the Lord’s Prayer.
“History books are the desolate catalog of how much our existence in this world has been an often-failed adventure,” the pope said on a drizzly morning in the Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Square. “There is a mysterious evil, which surely is not the work of God but that penetrates silently into the folds of history.”
“Silent like the snake that carries its poison silently,” he continued. “At times it seems to take over and on certain days its presence seems even clearer than that of God’s mercy.”
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The pope’s reflections on evil stemmed from the petition found at the end of the Lord’s Prayer: “But deliver us from evil.”
“With this expression, the one who prays is not only asking not to be abandoned in the time of temptation, but also begging to be freed from evil,” Francis said. “The original Greek verb is very strong: it evokes the presence of the evil one who tends to grasp and bite us and from whom we ask God for deliverance.”
“The apostle Peter also says that the evil one — the devil — is around us like a furious lion, looking to devour us, and we ask God to deliver us,” he said.
We are called to place our trust in the Father’s care “even and especially at times when the evil one makes his threatening presence felt,” the pope said.
“The person praying is not blind and sees clearly before his eyes this evil that is so invasive and so much at odds with the mystery of God itself,” he said. “He sees it in nature, in history, even in his own heart.”
“Because there is no one among us who can say that he is free from evil, or at least the temptation to evil,” he continued. “We all know what evil is. We all know what temptation is. All of us have experienced temptation in our flesh, to whatever sin. But it is the tempter that moves us and pushes us to evil, telling us: ‘do this, think this, go that way.’”
In his Passion, Jesus “fully experiences the piercing of evil, not only in death, but death on the cross. Not only in loneliness, but also in contempt and humiliation. Not only in malice, but also in cruelty and ruthlessness against Him,” Francis said.
“That’s what man is,” he continued, “a being devoted to life, who dreams of love and goodness, but who then continually exposes himself and his fellow man to evil, to the point that we can be tempted to despair of man.”
“The Christian knows how overwhelming the power of evil is,” he said, and yet also knows how much Jesus “is on our side and comes to our aid.”