Pope Francis smiles as he greets the crowd outside after praying the rosary at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome May 4. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis smiles as he greets the crowd outside after praying the rosary at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome May 4. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Dialogue doesn’t work with the devil; the only defense is the word of God, humility and meekness, especially in response to his works of hatred and persecution, Pope Francis said.

“Humility and meekness: These are the weapons that the prince of the world, the spirit of the world does not tolerate, because he makes proposals for worldly power, proposals of vanity, proposals for riches,” he said in his daily morning Mass homily May 4.

The pope celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives, with members of the Swiss Guard, including their commander, Col. Daniel Anrig.

In his homily, the pope talked about the origin of hatred and how Jesus told his disciples of the spite and persecution awaiting them, as told in the day’s reading from chapter 15 of the Gospel according to St. John.

“Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecute me, they will also persecute you,” he cited from the Gospel.

The Christian journey is Christ’s journey; there is no other way to follow him, the pope said.

“Many Christian communities are persecuted today, more now than in the early days of the church: today, right now, on this day and at this hour,” Pope Francis said. The reason for this persecution comes from the devil and his hatred; the path of persecution “is a consequence of the hatred of the world and the prince of this hatred in the world.”

The devil hates Christians, he said, because “we have been saved and the prince of the world doesn’t want us to be saved, he hates us and gave rise to the persecutions from the time of Jesus to today.”

With his death and resurrection, Christ “ransomed us” and all humanity from worldly power and the devil’s grasp, the pope said.

Just as the devil tried to trick and tempt Jesus, he tries to trick others, too, Pope Francis said. Jesus did not respond by bargaining with the devil or trying to fight him on his own; he responded with the word of the God.

“You cannot dialogue with the prince of this world. This is clear,” the pope said.

“Dialogue comes from charity, from love,” and it comes from habit, he said. It is necessary for peace and it must be the way “we hear each other, understand each other.”

However, dialogue doesn’t work with the devil, he said. He tries to “soften us” with flattery, convincing people to do something small, just “a tiny swindle” or scam that seems insignificant, but then it’s just the beginning of leading people along the wrong path and “we fall into the trap.”

Jesus told his disciples that he was “sending you out like sheep among wolves. Be cautious, but innocent,” he said.

If people let themselves be taken over by a spirit of vanity and think they can fight the wolves by being wolves themselves, then the wolves “will eat you alive,” the pope said.

He prayed that “we all stay sheep so that way we will have a shepherd who defends us.”

That is why the best defense against the devil’s “seductions, fireworks and flattery” is Jesus, the word of God, and Jesus’ own example of humility and meekness, he said.

In his morning homily May 6, the pope talked about the role of the Holy Spirit as a friend and guide leading the way to Jesus.

Celebrating Mass with workers who are in charge of the maintenance and upkeep of St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope said the Holy Spirit is God who “defends us” and “is always by our side supporting us.”

There is no Christian life without the vitality of the Holy Spirit, he said. Otherwise, “it would be a religious, pagan, pious life that believes in God but without the vitality that Jesus wants for his disciples.”

It is the Holy Spirit who opens people’s hearts and prepares them for knowing Jesus, the pope said.

“The Holy Spirit works in us during the whole day, during our whole life as a witness that tells us where Jesus is” and “what Jesus is saying to us,” he said.

Jesus told his disciples he would not leave them all by themselves, and he left the Holy Spirit “as a friend” and “traveling companion.”

The pope asked that at the end of every day, people pray and reflect on the ways the Holy Spirit worked in them. This “examination of conscience” is an exercise “that does us good,” he said.

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service