Thousands of children brought statues of the Baby Jesus to be blessed by the Pope during the Angelus. Francis announced that “in less than a year, the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Budapest from 13 to 20 September 2020.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Advent is a time of waiting and preparation for Christmas, a time “of grace” that “tells us that it is not enough to believe in God” for “it is necessary to purify our faith every day,” Pope Francis told some 30,000 people present in St Peter's Square for today’s Angelus recital.
The crowd included thousands of children who renewed the tradition of bringing the statues of the Baby Jesus from the crèche for the Pope’s blessing. After the recitation of the Marian prayer, Francis invited them to raise the statues, and told them "I bless them from my heart".
"The crèche,” he added, “is like a living Gospel. [. . .] As we contemplate the Christmas scene, we are invited to go on our way spiritually, drawn by the humility of the One who became man to meet every man. And we discover that he loved us so much that he joined us, so that we too could unite with him.”
Earlier, the pontiff noted that today is the third Sunday of Advent, a “Sunday of joy", saying again that "the Word of God invites us on the one hand to [find] joy, and, on the other, to be aware that existence also includes moments of doubt, when it is hard to believe. Joy and doubt are experiences that are part of our life.”
“The explicit invitation to joy from the prophet Isaiah that ‘The wilderness and the parched land will exult; the Arabah will rejoice and bloom’ (Is 35:1) is countered in the Gospel by the doubt of John the Baptist [when he asks:] ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’ (Mt 11:3). In fact, the prophet sees beyond the situation; he discouraged people before him, weak hands, shaky knees, lost hearts (Is 35:3-4). This is the same reality that tests faith all the time. But the man of God looks beyond, because the Holy Spirit makes his heart feel the power of his promise, and he announces salvation.”
"This is what is accomplished with Jesus: ‘the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them’ (Mt 11: 5). This description shows us that salvation envelops the whole man and regenerates him. But this new birth, with the joy that accompanies it, always presupposes a death to ourselves and the sin that is in us. Hence the call to conversion.”
“Advent, a time of grace, tells us that it is not enough to believe in God: it is necessary to purify our faith every day. It is a matter of preparing to welcome not a fairy-tale character, but the God who calls us, involves us and before whom a choice is required. The Child who lies in the crib has the face of our most needy brothers and sisters, poor people who ‘are a privileged part of this mystery; often they are the first to recognize God’s presence in our midst’ (Apostolic Letter Admirabile signum, 6).
“May the Virgin Mary help us, so that, as we approach Christmas, we may not let ourselves be distracted by external things, but make room in our hearts for the One who has already come and wants to come again to heal our illnesses and give us his joy.”
Following the Angelus, Francis announced that "in less than a year, the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Budapest from 13 to 20 September 2020. For more than a century, Eucharistic Congresses have reminded us that the Eucharist is at the centre of the Church's life. The theme of the next Congress will be ‘All my springs are in you’ (Ps 87:7).”