By Estefania Aguirre
Catholic News Agency/EWTN
Vatican City — Pope Benedict XVI used his second to last Angelus to tell thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square that Lent is a “spiritual battle.”
Lent, he said, “always involves a battle, a spiritual battle, because the spirit of evil naturally opposes our sanctification and seeks to divert us from the way of God.”
Pope Benedict has just days left as head of the Catholic Church until his almost unprecedented resignation takes effect Feb. 28.
The Pope, speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace, explained that the Lenten “spiritual battle” is the reason why the Gospel of the first Sunday of Lent relates each year to Jesus’ temptations in the desert.
He reflected on the Sunday gospel, which tells how Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil after having received the Holy Spirit in his baptism at the Jordan River.
“Upon starting his public ministry, Jesus had to expose and reject the false images of the Messiah that the tempter proposed,” said the Pope. “But these temptations are false images of man and during all times undermine the conscience, disguised and proposed as affordable, effective and even good.”
Pope Benedict said the evangelists Matthew and Luke reveal three temptations of Jesus, but differ only in the order in which they present them.
He said the core of these temptations is always to exploit God for some lowly ends, giving more importance to success or to material goods.
Pope Benedict said that faith is what is ultimately at stake in temptations because God is at stake.
“But in hindsight we are at crossroads — do we want to follow the ‘I’ or God? The individual interest or the real good and what is really good?” said the Pope.
But the pontiff said we do not have to fear facing the fight against the spirit of evil since “Jesus took our temptations to give us his victory.”
“The important thing is that we do this with him, with the Victor,” said the Pope.