Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis appealed twice today for an end to all wars. Trusting that the hope of Advent may embrace the earth, he read twice a passage by the prophet Isaiah, from today's Mass, the first Sunday of the liturgical season before Christmas, in which the prophet said, "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again" (2:4).
Speaking before tens of thousands of faithful gathered in St Peter's Square for the Angelus prayer, the pope said: "Let me repeat what the prophet Isaiah said, 'Give heed to my words!'"
"But when will this happen?" he asked after re-reading the verse. "When will the time come in which weapons will be disassembled and turned into tools of labour? Is that possible! Our wager is that there is always hope for peace."
Our "journey," he said, "has not ended. As in the life each one of us, there is a need to share, rise, and recover a sense of what our existence is all about, so for the great human family it is necessary to renew always the shared horizon towards which we are journeying. A horizon of hope! The season of Advent, which we begin again today, gives us a horizon of hope, hope that does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God, for the Lord never disappoints: He is faithful, He will not disappoint. Let us consider, feel this beauty!"
Earlier, the pontiff explained the meaning of the new liturgical year, which began with Advent, describing it as "a new journey by the People of God with Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, as our guide through history towards the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God".
"Let us rediscover the beauty of being on the road. The Church, with its vocation and mission, and humanity as whole with its peoples, civilisations, and cultures, all of us are on the road through the paths of time. On the road to where? Do we share a goal? And what is that goal?"
Going back again to Isaiah's prophecy (2: 2-3), Francis said that his journey "is a universal pilgrimage towards a shared goal, which in the Old Testament is Jerusalem, where the temple of the Lord stands, for it is from there, from Jerusalem, that the revelation of the face of God and His law came. Revelation found its fulfilment in Jesus Christ, and the 'temple of the Lord' has become himself, the Word made flesh. He is the guide as well as the destination of the pilgrimage of God's people, and in his light, other nations can walk towards the Kingdom of justice and peace."
In order to take to this road in this day and age, the Virgin Mary is a role model to emulate. "In her womb, God's hope turned into flesh, became man, and made history: Jesus Christ. Her Magnificat is the canticle of the People of God on the way, and of all the men and women who hope in God, and in the power of his mercy. Let us be guided by her who is mother, a mum who knows how to guide us in this time of waiting and active watch."
After the Angelus prayer before greeting the many groups present, Francis noted that today is World AIDS Day. "Let us express our closeness," the pope said, "with the people who are affected [by HIV/AIDS], especially the children, closeness that is very real in view of the quiet work performed by many missionaries and [health care] workers. Let us pray for all of them, including physicians and researchers. May every sick person, without exception, have access to the care they need."