Vatican City (AsiaNews) - As he began the Marian prayer for the Angelus on the fourth Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis said that at Christmas, Christ "passes by and knocks at our heart. Let us not let him get away; let us throw open our doors before him." Likewise, Mary "is an example of how to prepare for Christmas. In her attitude, we come to understand two essential aspects: the Virgin's faith and her capacity to recognise God's time. Her example and that of her husband Joseph are an invitation to accept with total openness of mind Jesus, who became our brother out of love. "
Today, the pope said, "the liturgy is meant to prepare us for the upcoming Christmas by inviting us to meditate the angel's annunciation to Mary. Gabriel told the Virgin about the Lord's will that she will become the mother of his only Son: 'Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High' (Lk, 1:31-32). Let us set our gaze on this simple girl from Nazareth at the moment when she made herself available for the divine message with her 'yes'. Let us come to understand two essential aspects in her attitude, which is our model on how to prepare for Christmas. "
These two aspects are related to each other. "First of all [we have] her faith, her attitude of faith, which consists in listening to God's Word in order to give herself over to this Word with full openness of mind and heart. In her response to the angel, Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word'' (Lk, 1:38). In her 'I am' full of faith, Mary does not know on which roads she will venture, what pain she will suffer, or what risks she will face. Yet, she is aware that the Lord will ask her, and that she has total trust in Him and surrenders to his love. This is Mary's faith. "
The second aspect "is the capacity of Christ's Mother to recognise God's time. Mary is the one who made possible the incarnation of the Son of God, 'the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages' (Rom, 16:25). She made possible the incarnation of the Word precisely because of her humble and courageous 'yes'. Mary teaches us to seize the favourable moment when Jesus comes into our lives and calls for a speedy and generous response. In fact, the mystery of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, which historically occurred more than two thousand years ago, is implemented as a spiritual event, in the here and now of the Liturgy. The Word, who found a home in Mary's virginal womb, comes knocking again at the heart of every Christian in the celebration of Christmas. Each of us is called to answer, like Mary, with a personal and sincere 'yes', putting ourselves fully at God's disposal and mercy."
"How many times Jesus comes into our lives," said the pope about his love, "how often has he sent us an angel. [He has done it] so often that we are not aware of it, because we are so caught up and immersed in our own things. Even when we prepare for Christmas, we are not aware of him coming by, knocking at our hearts, asking to come in. A saint used to say, 'I fear that the Lord will pass by'. Do you know why he was afraid? He was afraid that he would not notice him and would let him pass by. In our heart, we would like to be better people: this is the Lord knocking, which makes you want to be better and closer to God. If you feel this, stop, it is the Lord. Then go to pray, perhaps go to confession, that will do you good. But remember, if you feel like improving, he is the one coming by. Do not let him pass you by!"
In the mystery of Christmas, Francis said in concluding, "Saint Joseph's silent presence is next to Mary, as can be seen in every crèche. You can see it in the one here in St Peter's Square. The example of Mary and Joseph is for all of us an invitation to accept with total openness of mind Jesus, who became our brother out of love. He came to bring the gift of peace to the world: 'on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests' (Lk 2: 14), as the choir of angels announced to the shepherds. The precious gift of Christmas is peace, and Christ is our true peace. And Christ knocks at our hearts to give us peace of mind. We open the doors to Christ! We entrust ourselves to the intercession of our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, to live a truly Christian Christmas, free from all worldliness, ready to receive the Lord, the God-for-us."
After the Marian prayer and greetings to various groups present in the square, Francis again noted, "Do not forget: the Lord will come by. If you feel the desire to improve, to be better, the Lord will knock at your door. This Christmas, the Lord will come by. I wish you all a good Sunday and a Christmas of hope, with the doors open to the Lord, [full of] joy and brotherhood. Enjoy your lunch, and please, pray for me. See you next time!"