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  • » 12/14/2008, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Pope: closeness of God is not physical or temporal, but "of love"



    Benedict XVI blesses the "infants" for Nativity scenes brought by the children of Rome, and offers the prayer: Open our hearts / that we may receive Jesus in joy / always do what he asks / and see him in all those / who are in need of our love.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The "closeness" of God, spoken of in today's Mass, is not physical or temporal, it does not indicate the approach of the end of the world, but is a closeness "of love: love draws near." The approach of Christmas, indicated among other things by the large tree set up in St. Peter's Square, next to the Nativity scene being assembled, and the "Infants" that according to tradition Roman children bring this Sunday to St. Peter's Square in order to have them blessed by the pope, prompted Benedict XVI to pray, at the Angelus, that "Jesus, who by his birth brings the blessing of God to men, may be welcomed with love in all of the homes in Rome, and in the world."

    Children with statues of the baby Jesus (in the photo), therefore, took center stage today in St. Peter's Square. The pope asked them to unite themselves with his prayer, "that we may receive Jesus in joy." This is a joy to which this Sunday is especially dedicated, called "Gaudete Sunday," "be joyful," because during the Mass "a passage is read from St. Paul, 'Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I say: rejoice'. And immediately after this, he adds the reason: 'The Lord is near' (Phil. 4:4-5). This is the reason for our joy. But what does it mean that 'the Lord is near'? In what sense must we understand this 'closeness' of God? The apostle Paul, in writing to the Christians of Philippi, is clearly thinking of the return of Christ, and is inviting them to rejoice because this is certain. Nonetheless, St. Paul himself, in his letter to the Thessalonians, warns that no one can know the moment of the Lord's coming (cf. 1 Thes. 5:1-2), and he cautions against any alarmism, as if the return of Christ were imminent (cf. 2 Thes. 2:1-2). So already at that time, the Church, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, increasingly understood that the 'closeness' of God is not a question of space and time, but a question of love: love draws near! Christmas is coming to remind us of this fundamental truth of our faith, and, in front of the Nativity scene, we can taste Christian joy, contemplating in the newborn Jesus the face of God, who out of love drew close to us."

    "In this light," he continued, "it is a pleasure for me to renew the tradition of the blessing of the 'Infants', the statues of the baby Jesus to be placed in the Nativity scenes. I address myself in particular to you, dear boys and girls of Rome, who came this morning with your 'Infants', which I now bless. I invite you to unite yourselves with me, following attentively this prayer: God, our Father, / you so loved men / that you sent your only Son Jesus, / born of the Virgin Mary, / to save us and lead us back to you. / We pray that with your blessing / these images of Jesus, who is about to come among us, / may be, in our homes, / a sign of your presence and of your love. / Good Father, / give your blessing to us as well, / to our parents, to our families and to our friends. / Open our hearts, / that we may receive Jesus in joy, / always do what he asks, / and see him in all of those / who have need of our love. / We ask you this in the name of Jesus, / your beloved Son, who comes to bring peace to the world. / He lives and reigns for ever and ever. / Amen."

    Photo courtesy of CPP

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    See also

    16/11/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: the "talents" that Christ has given us are multiplied when given away
    Benedict XVI urges the faithful not to forget the gift of the faith, and not to be afraid of God, but to offer and share the gift given to us by Christ, which is He himself. Acknowledgment of religious who live in cloistered contemplative prayer. All are called to support them in their material needs. Their presence in the world is "indispensable."

    23/11/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: if it rejects the kingdom of God, the world cannot help but go to ruin
    At the recitation of the Angelus, Benedict XVI returns to speaking of charity as the "criterion" of the last judgment. A mention of the beatification, tomorrow in Nagasaki, of 188 Japanese martyrs, and the commemoration of the "great famine" that 75 years ago cost Ukraine millions of dead.

    17/02/2008 VATICAN - LEBANON
    Pope: The Transfiguration and the way of the Cross. An appeal for Lebanon
    Benedict XVI asks politicians of the Lebanese nation to find the ways of reconciliation, and choose a head of state. At the reflection before the Angelus, he emphasises the Transfiguration, as an anticipation of the resurrection, which presupposes following Jesus on the way of the Cross.

    07/12/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: prayer for Alexy II. The Church as "sentinel" for salvation of poor and oppressed
    Benedict XVI asks all to pray for the patriarch of Moscow, in union with "our Orthodox brethren." Advent recalls that "Christian hope goes beyond the legitimate expectation for social and political liberation, because what Jesus began was a new humanity, which comes from God." Encounter scheduled with university students of Rome.

    20/01/2008 VATICAN
    Two hundred thousand in solidarity with the pope excluded from La Sapienza university
    Saint Peter's Square and the Via della Conciliazione burst at the seams with young students and the faithful, after the opposition to his presence at the university of Rome. Benedict XVI asks all to build "a fraternal and tolerant society". A call for prayers for unity, and the pope's appointment for vespers at Saint Paul's Outside the Walls.



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