12/09/2007, 00.00
VATICAN

Heed John the Baptist against our materialistic Christmas, says the Pope

Benedict XVI talks about the topicality of the Baptist’s message and the latter’s urgent invitation to “prepare the path to the Lord” in the desert-like reality of today. The child born in Bethlehem “is the measure” God relies upon to judge us upon our death. “It is today, in the present, that our future destiny is decided.” The Pope invites university students to meet him on 13 December.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – John the Baptist’s “plain and tough words” on conversion are “more than ever helpful to us, men and women of our times, whose ways to perceive and experience Christmas too often feel the effects of a materialistic mindset,” said the Pope in the thoughts he expressed today before the Angelus. As he spoke to tens of thousands of pilgrims who gathered in St Peter’s Square for the occasion, he added that “the ‘voice’ of the great prophet calls upon us to prepare the path to the Lord, which in today’s desert-like inner life and outer world is losing its life-giving water that is Christ.”

Taking as his starting point the second Sunday of Advent, the Pontiff talked about the Baptist’s appeal on conversion which “called upon the people of Israel to repent their sins and correct every iniquity,” warning against “the hypocrisy of those who feel safe by virtue of belonging to the Chosen People. John the Baptist said that before God no one has anything to boast about but must instead “[p]roduce good fruit as evidence of your repentance” (Mt, 3: 8).

For Benedict XVI John’s invitation is “urgent” because the “Son of God . . . shall come among us to make manifest God’s judgment.”

“The Father does not judge anyone,” said the Pope, “but he has given all judgment to his Son [. . .] because he is the Son of Man (cf John, 5: 22, 27). It is today, in the present, that our future destiny is decided. It is through our actual behaviour in this life that we decide our eternal fate. In the twilight of our days on earth, when we are about to die, we shall be judged on the basis of our similarity to the child whose birth shall occur in the plain grotto in Bethlehem since it is He who is the God-given standard by which humanity shall live. The Father who is Heaven, who through the birth of His one and only Begotten Son has shown us His merciful love, calls upon us to follow His steps and turn our lives, as He did, into a gift of love.”

Lastly, “may the Virgin Mary,” said Benedict XVI, “lead us to a true conversion of the heart, so that we may make the right choices and conform our ways of thinking to the Gospel.”

Following the Marian prayer, the Pope invited Rome’s university students to meet him in the afternoon of 13 December, after the mass in St Peter’s Basilica which will be presided by the Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome, Camillo Cardinal Ruini.

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