(CNSNews.com) – Pope Francis said it is true that, in the past, people with epilepsy might have been mis-characterized as being possessed by demons but that confusion did not refute the fact that the Devil exists and is so important that he “is on the first page of the Bible” and at the Bible’s end, “with the victory of God over the Devil.”
In his papal morning Mass at the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse on Oct. 11, Pope Francis referenced the Gospel of Matthew (12:22-27), in which Jesus cures a man possessed but is then accused of using the power of Satan to drive out the devil.
Pope Francis said, “There are some priests who, when they read this Gospel passage, this and others, say: ‘But, Jesus healed a person with a mental illness’. They do not read thus, no? It is true that at that time, they could confuse epilepsy with demonic possession; but it is also true that there was the Devil.”
“And we do not have the right to simplify the matter,” said Pope Francis, “as if to say: ‘All of these [people] were not possessed; they were mentally ill.’ No! The presence of the Devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the Devil, with the victory of God over the Devil.”
Pope Francis then said that people must be vigilant and know that, if they advance in faith, the Devil will leave them alone for awhile but he always returns. “Today's Gospel begins with the Devil being cast out and ends with the Devil coming back,” said the Pope. “St. Peter said, ‘It's like a fierce lion that circles us.’ It is like that.”
As for his comments on Satan and other demons, the Pope said, “Some may say, but, Father, you're too old fashioned. You're frightening us with these things.’ No, it's not me! It is the Gospel! And these are not lies: it is the Word of the Lord. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the Devil. Please, let's not do business with the Devil. He wants to come back home, to take possession … Don't accept relativism, be vigilant. And always with Jesus!”