By Virginia Forrester

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. peter’s Square.

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Before the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In this third Sunday of Advent, called Sunday “of joy,” the Word of God invites us on one hand to joy, and on the other to the awareness that existence includes also moments of doubt, in which it is hard to believe. Joy and doubt are both experiences that are part of our life.

To the prophet Isaiah’s explicit invitation to joy: ”The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom” (35:1) is opposed, in the Gospel, John the Baptist’s doubt: “Are you He who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3). In fact, the prophet sees beyond the situation: he has before him discouraged people: weak hands, hesitant knees, lost hearts (Cf. 35:3-4). It’s the same reality that in all times puts faith to the test. However, the man of God looks beyond, because the Holy Spirit makes him feel in his heart the power of His promise, and he proclaims salvation: “Be strong, fear not! Behold your God [. . . ] He will come and save you” (v. 4). And then everything is transformed: the desert blossoms, consolation, and joy take hold of lost hearts, the lame, the blind the mute are healed (Cf. vv. 5-6). It’s what is realized with Jesus: “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” (Matthew 11:5). This description shows us that salvation envelops the whole man and regenerates him. However, this new birth, with the joy that accompanies it, always implies a dying to ourselves and to the sin that is in us. From here stems the call to conversion, which is at the base of the preaching be it of the Baptist be it of Jesus; in particular, it’d about changing the idea we have of God. And the Season of Advent stimulates us precisely to this, with the question that John the Baptist asks Jesus: “Are you He who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3). We think: all his life John has waited for the Messiah; his style of life, his body itself is molded by this expectation. Because of this too, Jesus praises him with those words: “among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John” (Cf. Matthew 11:11). Yet he also had to convert himself to Jesus. Like John, we are also called to recognize the face that God has chosen to assume in Jesus Christ, humble and merciful.

Advent is a time of grace. It says to us that it’s not enough to believe in God: it’s necessary to purify our faith every day. It’s about preparing to receive not a fairy tale character, but the God that questions us, involves us and before whom a choice is imposed. The Child that lies in the manger has the face of our neediest brothers and sisters, of the poor that “are the privileged ones of this mystery and, often, those that in the main are able to recognize God’s presence in our midst” (Apostolic Letter Admirabile Signum, 6).

As we draw close to Christmas, may the Virgin Mary help us not to let ourselves be distracted by exterior things, but to make room in our heart for Him who has already come, and wills to come again to heal our sicknesses and give us His joy.

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

After the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I greet you all, families, parish groups and Associations that have come to Rome, from Italy and from many parts of the world. In particular, I greet the pilgrim of Korea, of Valencia and the group of Rotzo (VI).

I greet you, dear youngsters, who have come with the statuettes of the Child Jesus for your crib. Raise the statuettes! I bless them from my heart. “ The crib is like a living Gospel. [. . .] While we contemplate the Nativity Scene, we are invited to put ourselves spiritually on the way, drawn by the humility of Jesus, God, He who made himself man to encounter each one of us. And we discover that He loves us to such a point as to unite Himself to us so that we too can unite ourselves to Him” (Cf. Apostolic Letter Admirabile Signum, 1).

In less than a year, the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Budapest, from September 13-20, 2020. For over a century Eucharistic Congresses recall that the Eucharist is at the center of the life of the Church. The theme of the next Congress will be “All my Springs Are in You” (Psalm 87”7). Let us pray that Budapest’s Eucharistic event may foster processes of renewal in Christian communities” (Address to the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, November 10, 2018).

And I wish you all a happy Sunday and a good Christmas Novena. You, youngsters, bring the Baby Jesus for the crib and, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye.

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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