Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - " ... We should celebrate Christmas contemplating Mary and Joseph .... With them, we walk together towards Bethlehem". This was Pope Francis' invitation to the tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square for the Angelus today, the last Sunday of Advent (the fourth ), the period leading up to Christmas . Immediately after the Marian prayer , he focused on a banner held up by those present in the square: " The poor can not wait," and devoted a special greeting to a group of believers , together with members of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions ( PIME) .
The pope said: "Mary, [ is ] full of grace, the woman who had the courage to totally trust in the Word of God, Joseph, the faithful and just man who preferred to believe in the Lord instead of listening to the voices of doubt and human pride". But his reflection, commenting on today's Gospel (Matthew 1 , 18-24) , was primarily a story of the birth of Jesus "from St. Joseph's point of view".
It should be remembered that Francis has entrusted his pontificate to the intercession of St. Joseph . The inaugural Mass of his pontificate took place on the feast of St. Joseph (March 19, 2013 ) .
The pontiff outlined Joseph's personality, the betrothed of Mary, when he discovers that his betrothed was "with child through the Holy Spirit".
becomes aware of this fact - continued the Pope - he remains perplexed. The
Gospel does not explain what his thoughts were, but it tells us what is
essential: he tries to do the will of God and is ready to make a radical renunciation.
of defending himself and assert his rights , Joseph chooses a solution that
represents a huge sacrifice for him : " since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly" ( 1:19) . This short sentence sums up a real inner drama, if we think of Joseph's love for Mary , but even in such a circumstance, Joseph intends to do the will of God and decides , no doubt with great pain , to repudiate Mary in private".
Joseph's trial is similar to that of Abraham, "when God asked him for his son Isaac (cf. Gen 22) : to give up the most precious thing, the most beloved person . But, as in the case of Abraham, the Lord intervenes : he found the faith that opens and finds a different path , a path of love and happiness , "Joseph - he says - do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her"( Mt 1:20 )".
" This Gospel - he concluded - shows us the greatness of St. Joseph's soul . He was leading a good life, he had plans but God had other plans for him, a greater mission . Joseph was a man who always listened to the voice of God , deeply sensitive to his secret will, a man attentive to the messages that came from the heart and from on high. He did not insist on pursuing his life project, he did not allow resentment to poison his soul , but was prepared to place himself at the service of the novelty he was presented with. And thus he became even freer and greater. Accept everything according to the Lord's, Joseph finds himself fully, he goes beyond himself. This freedom to give up all that he has, to renounce his own existence, and his full availability to the inner will of God, challenges us and shows us the way".
After the Angelus prayer, speaking off the cuff, the pontiff commented on one of the many banners hoisted by so-called "pitchforks" , impromptu groups of Italian families and small business owners who protest the difficult economic situation and politicians' delay in finding solutions.
"I see - said the pope - a large banner : the poor can not wait. It makes me think that Jesus, who was born in a stable. He was not born in a house. Then they had to flee, to Egypt to save his life . Eventually he returned to his home in Nazareth. And I think today, even reading this, of the many homeless families, either because they never had a home, or because they lost it for many reasons. Families and go home together. It 's very difficult to raise a family without a home. During these days of Christmas , I invite all persons, entities and social authorities to do everything possible to ensure that every family can have a home".
After the greetings, which included a special greeting for the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions , Francis added: " To those of Italy gathered to express their social commitment, may you always choose the path of dialogue, in defending your rights. I wish you all a Christmas of hope, justice and brotherhood".