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The Satan of the First Pope

Today we celebrate once again one more year of the Independence of Mexico, it is no small thing, we celebrate that freedom is an integral part of our nation. And precisely the gospel today invites us to a deep, real and current liberation. Are we not in a situation that is demanding clarity and intelligence from us to contribute to a nation of peace and security?

When Saint Peter writes in 1 Pe 5,8, watch out and be sober, because the devil is looking for someone to devour like a roaring lion! He gives us advice that stems from that profound experience in Caesarea Philippi where Jesus, looking at him, rebukes him and the disciples without regard (Mc 8,33). Peter had just responded accurately a few minutes before, he deserved a 10: "You are the Christ" (Mc 8,29) and now the teacher, the Christ! He rebukes him calling him "satan" what a rebuke and what a figure!

Peter is still a disciple, he is learning from the Master. Jesus for his part knows perfectly the tactics of the devil, he spent forty days in the desert tempted by satan (Mc 1,13). And there, in the desert, he learned to be discerning to the point of distinguishing when satan is close and trying to deceive him. Jesus again uses an imperative (Mc 8,33) "Behind me! satan", in addition to the forcefulness of this beautiful expression that puts satan in his place because he has no power over him, Jesus teaches his disciples why: "because you do not think according to God but according to men".

Yeah! Exact! It is there! In the thoughts! own in thoughts, in the action of thinkingφρονέω where Jesus discovers Satan and where Peter will have to learn to distinguish him. And the rebuke is so strong that the first pope is the first to be exorcised. Jesus frees Peter, not as a posheard by the devil, but it does free him from his ignorance, from his not distinguishing the work of the devil in his thoughts.

Today we are witnesses of painful cases of exorcisms and exorcists, extreme cases in which people, not having discerned before, fell into the devil's nets and have had to undergo long and painful liberation processes. But these extreme cases can and should be avoided with a sharp and insightful spiritual education. We cannot be naive, turning a blind eye, or feeling that we are already cured of fear, because any of us who says to Jesus: "You are my Lord" "You are the Christ", will be tempted by satan. For this reason Peter's invitation stems from Jesus' rebuke: Watch and be sober! because your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion looking to devour you!

Only those who are capable of going through the desert of the spiritual exercises year after year and allow themselves to be confronted with their own demons through the guidance of a good spiritual companion will be able to discover how satan deceives us personally and only then will we be able to distinguish it when we barely try to get closer. For this reason we cannot and should not abandon our guard because the one who wants to devour the most is the disciples of Christ.

Peter rebukes Jesus, the Greek text of the gospel uses the same verb for both characters ἐπιτιμάω, to rebuke. Pedro sportingly takes his role as boss and begins to reprimand the Master because he taught them that he had to suffer and be rejected by the most important personalities in the community. Peter's spontaneity, his simplicity and clarity before the Master, deserve all our respect, since it is there that Jesus can really teach, he can transform hearts, discernment has sincerity as its starting point.

To discern comes from the Latin verb discernere, it is a compound of two words dis + cerno. Dis is a prefix that indicates division and cerno is a verb, sift, which means to separate and distinguish with the eyes to see and understand with the mind, for example I distinguish or discern black from white, true from false, etc. The real dictionary of the Spanish language indicates that it is about the action of distinguishing one thing from the other, being able to point out the differences between them.

I must say that personally discerning has become my favorite art for several years now. The master of discernment Ignacio de Loyola has become the guide of my conscience and thanks to his companions, the Jesuits, I have been practicing this perceptive art that has freed me from a series of spiritual gaps, or black holes to use a spatial metaphor, and they have helped me to reorganize my chaos turning it not only into habitable land but into a garden (Gn 1,1 ss).

I have learned to distinguish my feelings, my thoughts and desires and I have learned to put them in order without relativizing them, without avoiding them, without judging them. The scare I got when a Jesuit told me: 'Ah, that's a second-week demon that is fooling you.' I stayed four, that is, I did not understand, I did not know what to think or what he was referring to. After a slow but effective process, I realized that what this meant is that the devil dresses as a saint but to take us to his own ground, just like he was doing with Pedro.

This is how I have learned to see how satan is capable of manipulating me through my own thoughts, feelings, desires when I am neither awake nor sober, and I don't mean drunk! No, excuse me but no! I mean that sometimes I rest on my laurels and it catches me off guard, it wins me battles BUT NOT THE WAR, because it has already been won in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Being sober is the challenge. Sober is an adjective commonly used to define someone who is not sober, a drunkard, but this adjective actually defines moderation and temperance. Temperance, in the Greek world, was defined by Aristotle (The great morality, Book I, chapter XX) as the human being's ability to feel emotion for the pleasures of the world but without allowing himself to be dominated to the point of despising all his duties by the desire to enjoy them excessively; true temperance will consist in remaining prudent and moderate solely for the reason that one should be so and not out of fear or any other similar feeling, for this is no longer called temperance.

Get sober! it means remaining prudent and moderate so as not to be dominated; and to discern is to separate with intelligence to distinguish clearly, acquiring moderation in the balanced use of the created world.

Peter before the Master's teaching not only does not distinguish but is also scandalized; the first pope takes the liberty of reprimanding the Master himself, he wants to advise him, obviously with all his good intentions but he intends to avoid him the path of giving life and taking away at all costs everything that implies a lot of suffering, rejection and even death. And while Jesus is still speaking, Peter takes him aside and reprimands him because he still does not understand that satan is manipulating him in his own thoughts and in his reactions. I imagine Peter taking Jesus by the arm and taking him a little aside in the beautiful Caesarea Philippi to rebuke him politely.

And even worse, at the hour of the passion, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter will not yet be able to watch for an hour, he will not be sober or awake, but he will not only be asleep but will also draw his sword to defend the teacher and He will even tear off an ear of a servant:

Pedro puts away the sword! Peter, you don't discern! You can't tell satan! your thoughts are still those of men and not those of God! When will you put down the sword and understand that the salvation of the world does not need 'swords'? When will you watch and be sober and praying to distinguish satan who mimics and deceives you?

Pope Francis does nothing but insist on taking a pocket gospel with us for a five minute gospel reading. He is aware that only by learning to confront ourselves with the gospel can we save ourselves from the clutches of the roaring lion that seeks someone to devour. Only careful and calm reading, with intelligence and in a friendly but sincere conversation with the Lord, can we avoid falling into the clutches of the one who can turn us into roaring lions who are always looking for someone to devour. Because this is what we become when we are shocked, roaring lions.

And that is precisely where the devil begins... to scandalize us: "Those words of the Pope are harsh, who is going to start reading the Gospel... look at the Church, look at the priests, look at the pedophile priests, I believe in God but I don't believe in church." And satan does his thing, he manipulates us, scandalizing us with everything and everyone except ourselves: "is that bishop", "is that Christian", "that catechist", "is that this formator"... etc., etc., sometimes rightly and sometimes wrongly, but what is true is that 'aaaa how we love gossip...' and wow! as we say in Mexico, because being scandalized is satan's subtle tactic, it is the supreme art of the divider.

The Gospel of Mark defines the scandalized in the parable of the sower (Mc 4,17) as those who receive the word of God with joy but have not cleared the ground of their own stones, they do not confront each other, they have nothing in themselves themselves to convert, they know how to aim at others but they do not discover their own stones and for this reason "they do not have to take root, they are fickle, that is, they are seasonal disciples, and when tribulation comes they are scandalized and deaen" (cf. Mc, 4 17).

That is the real problem, we love belonging to the guild of the scandalized, because we are comfortable there, on the one hand we feel good, we are capable of pointing out what is wrong because it scandalizes us and on the other hand we love it because there is not much to do there. work, hehe, we don't have to remove stones or caltrops, if only we were capable of confronting our thoughts with the thoughts of God!

Today we spend hours in front of the media and perhaps we swallow, without discerning, everything that television, the internet, fake news or sensationalism tells us. Never like today we live reading and writing and freely writing our opinions, posting tweets, comments, clicking like, it makes me angry 😀 😡😝😱👍🏻 etc., etc., but do we discern? Do we confront God, his words, his thoughts or do we go like this to what the masses say?

A little while ago, not even a month, in Guanajuato, two people who were relatives, were labeled on Facebook and WhatsApp as "robachicos", a crowd of people grabbed them, the police took them to the police station but the people took them out and out of the facilities doused them with gasoline and burned them alive. A few hours later it turned out that they were innocent but too late.

We live in a country where we are submerged in uncontrolled violence as a result of impunity and corruption of the authorities themselves. We are at constant risk of being victims of abuse, harassment, extortion, all of it on the order of the day and in broad daylight, but the fundamental question is:

What part are we on?

Of those who follow the opinions of the crowd without thinking?

Of those who collaborate with injustice by saying that they do justice or take it into their own hands?

One of those who draw their swords and cut off the ear of the first person who stands in front of us?

Of those like Pedro who are scandalized and point?

Or on the side of the Master who knows how to distinguish good from evil and has the authority to order the devil behind me satan! ?

Hey there the difference!

Blow Lord in my ear, because without you I have been lost!

Teach me to distinguish your thoughts from mine and from those of satan, make me faithful in my poverty!

Click here to listen to this song

Caesarea Philippi in the northern Galilee.

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