12/04/2011, 00.00
VATICAN

Pope: Prepare for Christmas with a sober lifestyle and self assessment

Angelus, Benedict XVI speaks of John the Baptist. An invitation to solidarity with "those who, often forcibly, they must leave their country, or are stateless."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Choose a sober lifestyle," and “make an honest assessment your life: they are the exhortations of John the Baptist to Christians during Advent, a period of preparation for Christmas. This is the invitation that Benedict XVI addressed today to 20 thousand people present for the Angelus in St Peter's Square where the Christmas tree, this year from Ukraine has arrived.

His appointment for the recitation of the Marian prayer with the faithful was also an opportunity for the Pope to recall the plight of migrants and refugees. Benedict XVI recalled that "in the coming days, in Geneva and other cities, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World Organization for Migration, the 60th anniversary of the Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 50th anniversary of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. I entrust to the Lord all those who, often forcibly, must leave their homeland, or who are stateless. While I encourage solidarity for them, I pray for all those who are doing their utmost to protect and assist these brothers and sisters in emergency situations, even if it means exposing themselves to serious hardships and dangers "

Previously, taking a cue from today's Gospel, Benedict XVI spoke of John the Baptist: " Beginning with his outward appearance, John is presented as a very ascetic figure dressed in camel skin, he feeds on locusts and wild honey, found in the desert of Judea (cf. Mk 1.6). Jesus himself once held him in contrast to those who "wear fine clothing” in the “royal palaces " (Mt 11.8)”.

"The style of John the Baptist - he continued was meant to call all Christians to choose a sober lifestyle, especially in preparation for the feast of Christmas, when the Lord - as Saint Paul would say - "became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich"(2 Cor 8.9).
With regard to the John’s mission, it was an extraordinary appeal to conversion: his baptism "is tied to a fiery invitation to a new way of thinking and acting, it is above all linked to the announcement of God's justice" (Jesus of Nazareth I, Milan 2007, p. 34) and the imminent appearance of the Messiah, defined as "he who is mightier than I" and who will "baptize with the Holy Spirit" (Mk 1,7.8)”.

" Therefore, John’s appeal - concluded the Pope - goes far beyond and deeper than a call to a sober lifestyle: it is a call for inner change, starting with the recognition and confession of our sins. As we prepare for Christmas, it is important that we find time for self contemplation and carry out an honest assessment of our lives. May we be enlightened by a ray of the light that comes from Bethlehem, the light of He who is "the Greatest" and made himself small, he who is "the Strongest" but became weak".

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