Advent begins today, a time “given to us to welcome the Lord who comes to meet us, to verify our desire for God, and to look ahead and prepare for the return of Christ." “Jesus exhorts us to pay attention and to watch, to be ready to welcome him upon his return.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis was back in Rome for today’s Angelus following his trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, and thanked all those who accompanied him there in their prayers.
He expressed his gratitude this morning going to Rome’s Saint Mary Major Basilica to pay homage to Our Lady Salus populi romani where he laid white flowers before the ancient image.
In his address, the pontiff urged the faithful to "be attentive and vigilant" so as not to be "lost in our sins and infidelities" and "allow God to break into our existence".
Today, before the recitation of the Marian prayer, Francis reminded the 30,000 people present in St Peter's Square that today was the start of the "Advent journey, which will culminate in Christmas. Advent,” he said, “is given to us to welcome the Lord who comes to meet us, to verify our desire for God, and to look ahead and prepare for the return of Christ. He will return to us on the feast of Christmas, when we will remember his historical coming in the humility of the human condition; but he comes in us every time we are willing to receive him, and will come again at the end of time to 'to judge the living and the dead'. For this reason, we must always be vigilant and wait for the Lord with the hope of meeting him. Today's liturgy introduces us precisely to this evocative theme of vigilance and waiting."
"In the Gospel (cf. Mk 13:33-37) Jesus exhorts us to pay attention and to watch, to be ready to welcome him upon his return. He tells us: ‘Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. [. . .] May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping’ (Mk 13:33-36). The person who is paying attention is the one who, amid the noise of the world, does not let himself or herself to be overwhelmed by distraction or superficiality, but lives in a full and conscious way, worried above all about others.”
“With this attitude we become aware of the tears and needs of others and we can also understand their human and spiritual capacities and qualities. The attentive person also turns to the world, trying to counter the indifference and cruelty in it, rejoicing at the treasures of beauty that also exist and must be kept. It is about having a look of understanding to recognise both the misery and poverty of individuals and society, as well as the hidden wealth in the small things of every day, right there where the Lord placed us."
“The vigilant person is the one who accepts the invitation to keep watch, that is, not to be overwhelmed by the slumber of discouragement, the lack of hope, disappointments, but at the same time rejects the solicitation of the many vanities of which the world is full and for which, at times, personal and family time and serenity are sacrificed. It is the painful experience of the people of Israel, as told by the prophet Isaiah: God seemed to have left his people wandering far from his ways (see 63.17), but this was an effect of the infidelity of the people itself (cf. 64:4b). We too often find ourselves in this situation of infidelity to the Lord's calling: He shows us the right way, the way of faith, the way of love, but we seek our happiness elsewhere."
"Being careful and vigilant are the conditions for not continuing to 'wander away from the ways of the Lord', lost in our sins and our infidelities; these are the conditions to allow God to break into our existence in order to restore meaning and value to it full of goodness and tenderness."
After the Angelus, the pope thanked those who accompanied him with their prayers in his recent journey. "The memory of the many faces tried by life, but noble and smiling, is impressed on me. They are all in my heart and in my prayers."
In addition, "In particular I also mention in my prayers the people of Honduras, that they may peacefully overcome their current moment of difficulty."