Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!

Today’s Gospel shows us Jesus freeing a person possessed by an “evil spirit” (see Mk 1:21-28), tormenting and making them scream (see. vv. 23, 26). This is how the devil acts this is the way he acts: he wants to take possession of us in order to “enchain our souls.” To enchain our souls: this is what the devil wants. We must be careful with the “chains” that suffocate our freedom, because the devil always takes away our freedom. Let us try to name some of the chains that can shackle our hearts.

I am thinking of addictions, which enslave us and make us constantly dissatisfied, and which devour our energies, goods, and relationships. Another chain I am thinking of is dominant trends that encourage the pursuit of impossible perfectionisms, consumerism, and hedonism, which commodify people and spoil relationships. And yet more chains: there are temptations and conditionings that undermine self-esteem, that undermine peacefulness, and the ability to choose and love life. Another chain is fear, which makes us look to the future with pessimism, and dissatisfaction, which always blames others. Then there is a very ugly chain, which is the idolatry of power, which generates conflicts and resorts to weapons that kill or uses economic injustice and thought manipulation.

Many are our chains, there truly are many in our lives.

And Jesus came to free us from all these chains. Today, facing the devil who challenges him by shouting, “What have you to do with us? Have you come to destroy us?” (v. 24), Jesus answers, “Quiet! Come out of him!” (v. 25). Jesus has the power to drive out the devil. Jesus frees us from the power of evil but – let us be careful – he drives out the devil but he never negotiates with him! Jesus never negotiated with the devil and when he was tempted in the desert, Jesus’ responses were always words from the Bible, never a dialogue. Brothers and sisters: with the devil there must be no dialogue! Be careful: with the devil there can be no dialogue, because if you start speaking to him, he will always win. Be careful.

So, what should we do when we feel tempted and oppressed? Negotiate with the devil? No: there must be no negotiating with him.
We must invoke Jesus: let us call on Him from those places where we feel that the chains of evil and fear are tightest.

Once more, by the power of His Spirit, the Lord wants to say to the evil one today: “Be gone, leave that heart in peace, do not divide the world, do not divide our families and communities; let them live serenely so that the fruits of my Spirit may flourish there, not yours- this is what Jesus says. Let love, joy, meekness reign among them, and instead of violence and shouts of hatred, let there be freedom and peace.

Let us ask ourselves: Do I really want to be freed from those chains that shackle my heart? And also, am I capable of saying “no” to the temptations of evil before they creep into my soul? Finally, do I invoke Jesus, allowing Him to act in me, to heal me from within?

May the Holy Virgin guard us from evil.