Just as the influence of the Holy Spirit is recognized when one does an act of charity, Christians also must recognize the presence of the devil when bullying occurs, Pope Francis said.
“When we realize that we harbour within ourselves the desire to attack someone because they are weak, we have no doubt: It is the devil. Because attacking the weak is the work of Satan,” the Pope said in his homily Jan. 8 at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The Pope centred his homily on the day’s reading from the First Book of Samuel, which recounts the verbal abuse Hannah endured because she was unable to conceive a child.
Similar accounts in other Bible stories — from Abraham’s wife Sarah ridiculed by her servant to Job who was rejected by his wife after his misfortune — are stories that Christians should take time to reflect on, the Pope said.
“I ask myself: What is within these people? What is it within us that pushes us to mock and mistreat others weaker than we are?” the Pope asked.
“It is understandable when a person resents someone stronger than them, perhaps because of envy … but toward the weak? What makes us do that? It is something habitual, as if I need to ridicule another person to feel confident; as if it were a necessity,” he said.
Pope Francis said that as a child there was a woman named Angelina in his neighbourhood and she was constantly ridiculed by others, especially children, because of her mental illness.
While people would generously give her food and clothes, local children would make fun of the woman and say, “Let’s find Angelina and have some fun,” the Pope said.
“Today we see it constantly in our schools — the phenomenon of bullying, attacking the weak because ‘you’re fat or foreign or because you’re black,'” he said. “This means there is something within us that makes us act aggressively toward the weak.”
Although psychologists may give a different reason as to why some are inclined to bully the weak, Pope Francis said he believed it was “a consequence of original sin” and the work of Satan who “has no compassion.”
“Let us ask the Lord to give us the grace of God’s compassion,” the Pope said. “He is the one who has compassion on us and helps us to move forward.”
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund