Advent, a word that means “coming” or “presence”, refers both to the first coming of Christ in the Incarnation, and to the second coming, when Jesus will return in glory. These two events, the focal points of salvation history, touch us deeply, the Pope said, “because by His death and resurrection Jesus has already accomplished that transformation of humanity and of the cosmos that is the final goal of creation.” But before that final end, the Gospel must be proclaimed to all nations. “This permanent coming of the Lord in the proclamation of the Gospel requires our continual collaboration; and the Church, which is like the Betrothed, the promised Bride of the crucified and risen Lamb of God (cfr. Rev. 21,9), in communion with her Lord collaborates in this coming of the Lord, in which His glorious return is already begun.”
Sunday’s readings, Pope Benedict said, show us what we must do to be ready when the Lord comes. The Gospel reminds us that we must live simply and moderately, and pray constantly. Saint Paul urges us to continually grow in love for one another. And the reading from the prophet Jeremiah reminds us that the Church, the community of believers, “is a sign of the love of God, of His justice that is already present in history, but not yet fully realised, and that therefore should always be awaited, invoked, and sought after with patience and courage.”
In his remarks to English speaking pilgrims and visitors after the Angelus, the Holy Father made special mention of Devasahayam Pillai, a convert from Hinduism who was martyred in India in 1752. Blessed Devasahayam was beatified today in the diocese of Kottar. “His witness to Christ,” the Pope said, “is an example of that attentiveness to the coming of Christ recalled by this first Sunday of Advent. May this holy season help us to centre our lives once more on Christ, our hope.”
Below, please find the full text of the Pope’s remarks at Sunday’s Angelus.
Today the Church begins a new liturgical year, a path that is further enriched by the Year of Faith, 50 years since the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The first Time of this journey is Advent, composed, in the Roman Rite, of the four weeks that precede the Birth of the Lord, that is, the mystery of the Incarnation. The word “Advent” means “coming” or “presence.” In the ancient world, it signified the coming of the king or the emperor into one of the provinces; in the language of Christians, it referred to the coming of God, to His presence in the world; a mystery that involves the whole of the cosmos and of history, but that recognises two culminating moments: the first and the second coming of Jesus Christ. The first is the Incarnation itself; the second is the glorious return at the end of time. These two moments, chronologically distant – and it is not given to us to know how far apart they are – touch us deeply, because by His death and resurrection Jesus has already accomplished that transformation of humanity and of the cosmos that is the final goal of creation. But before that end, it is necessary that the Gospel be proclaimed to all nations, as Jesus says in the Gospel of Saint Mark. The coming of Christ is continuous; the world must be infused by His presence. This permanent coming of the Lord in the proclamation of the Gospel requires our continual collaboration; and the Church, which is like the Betrothed, the promised Bride of the crucified and risen Lamb of God (cfr. Rev. 21,9), in communion with her Lord collaborates in this coming of the Lord, in which His glorious return is already begun.
It is to this that the Word of God recalls us today, tracing out a line of conduct to pursue in order to be ready for the coming of the Lord. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says to the disciples: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life . . . Be vigilant at all times and pray.” So: simplicity and prayer. And the apostle Paul adds the invitation to “increase and abound in love” among ourselves and towards everyone, to strengthen our hearts and to be blameless in holiness (cfr. 1 Thess 3, 12-13). In the midst of the turmoil of the world, or the desert of indifference and materialism, Christians accept the salvation of God and witness to it by a different way of life, as a city set on a hill. “In those days,” the prophet Jeremiah proclaims, “Jerusalem shall dwell safely; this is the name they shall call her: ‘The Lord our justice’” (Jer 33,16). The community of believers is a sign of the love of God, of His justice that is already present and working in history, but not yet fully realised, and that therefore should always be awaited, invoked, and sought after with patience and courage.
The Virgin Mary perfectly embodies the spirit of Advent, which consists of listening to God, a profound desire to do His will, and joyful service to others. Let us be guided by her, so that God who is coming may not find us closed or distracted, but might extend to each of us a small part of His kingdom of love, of justice, and of peace.
CELEBRATION OF FIRST VESPERS OF ADVENT WITH THE UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY OF ROMANS AND UNIVERSITIES IN PAPAL ROME FOR THE START OF THE ACADEMIC YEAR
Dear university friends,
the words of the Apostle Paul guide us to understand the true meaning of the liturgical year, which start tonight along with the recitation of the First Vespers of Advent. The entire path of the Church is directed to discover and experience the faithfulness of the God of Jesus Christ in the cave of Bethlehem will come to us, once again, in the face of a child. The whole history of salvation is a path of love, mercy and benevolence: from the creation to the liberation of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, the giving of the Law at Sinai to return home from the Babylonian captivity. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has always been near God, who has never abandoned his people. Several times it has been sadly infidelity and waited patiently for the return, always in the freedom of a love that precedes and supports the beloved, attentive to his dignity and his deepest aspirations.
God is not locked himself in his Heaven, but he leaned on the history of man: a great mystery that comes to overcome any possible expectation. God enters into the man's time in the most unexpected: making child and along the stages of human life for all of our existence, spirit, soul and body - as St Paul reminds us - can be preserved blameless and be elevated to the heights of God does all this for his faithful love toward humanity. Love is true when it tends by its nature to the good of the other, to the greatest possible good, and is not limited simply to respect commitments undertaken friendship, but goes beyond, without calculation or measure. It 'just that he did the living and true God, whose profound mystery is revealed to us in the words of St. John: "God is love" ( 1 Jn 4:8,16). This God in Jesus of Nazareth takes on itself the whole of humanity, the whole history of mankind, and gives a new turn, decisive, to a new way of being human, characterized by being born of God and strive towards him (cf. The Childhood of Jesus , Rizzoli-LEV 2012, p. 19).
Dear young people, Distinguished Rectors and Professors, it gives me great joy to share these reflections with you who represent the Roman university world that brings together, despite their specific identity, state universities and private institutions of Rome and the Papal which for many years walking together giving a living testimony of a fruitful dialogue and collaboration between the different disciplines and theology. I greet and thank Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Rector of the University of Rome "Foro Italico" and your representative, for the words he addressed to me on your behalf. I greet warmly the Cardinal Vicar and Minister for Education, University and Research, as well as several academic authorities present.
With special affection I greet you, dear university students of the Roman universities that you have renewed your profession of faith on the tomb of the Apostle Peter. You are living the time of preparation in the major decisions of your life and service in the Church and in society. This evening you can experience that you are not alone: I am with you teachers, university chaplains, leaders of colleges. E 'with you for the Pope! And most importantly, are inserted in the academic community of Rome, where you can walk in prayer, in research, in comparison, the witness for the Gospel. It 'a precious gift for your life, let this be known to see as a sign of God's faithfulness, which offers opportunities to bring your life to Christ, sanctify for leave to perfection by Him (cf. 1 Thes 5:23) . The liturgical year we start with these Vespers will be for you the way in which once again relive the mystery of this faithfulness of God, on which you are called to found, as on a rock safe your life. Celebrating and living with the whole Church this journey of faith, you will experience that Jesus Christ is the only Lord of the cosmos and of history, without which any human construction is likely to vanish into thin air. The liturgy, lived in its true spirit, the school is always important to live the Christian faith, a faith "theological" that involves your whole being - spirit, soul and body - for you to become living stones in the building of the Church and employees of the new evangelization. In particular, in the Eucharist, the living God it is so close to becoming food that sustains the journey, a presence that transforms the fire of his love.
Dear friends, we live in an environment where we often encounter indifference to God But I think deep down many - even among your peers - live far away from God, there is an inner longing for the infinite, transcendent. It is your task to testify at universities and the nearby God, manifested in the pursuit of truth, the life of every intellectual effort. In this regard, I express my appreciation and my encouragement for the campus ministry program entitled: "The Father saw him from a distance. Today man today of God, "as proposed by the campus ministry of the Vicariate of Rome. Faith is the door that God opens our lives to lead us to Christ, in which today meets the man of God today, the Christian faith is not adherence to a generic god or undefined, but the living God who in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, came into our history and it is revealed as the Redeemer of man. To believe is to entrust their lives to Him who alone can give full time and open to a hope beyond time.
Reflecting on faith in quest ' Year of Faith , is the invitation that I wish to extend to the entire academic community of Rome. The ongoing dialogue between the public or private Universities and the Pontifical bodes well for an increasingly significant part of the culture of the Church not only in Rome, but Italian and international. Weeks cultural and the International Symposium of teachers to be held in June, will be an example of this experience, which I hope will be realized in all cities where universities are state universities, private and papal.
Dear friends, "He who calls you is faithful and he will do it" ( 1 Thessalonians 5:24), will make you heralds of his presence. In prayer this evening let us set ideally to the cave of Bethlehem to experience true joy of Christmas, the joy of welcoming the center of our life, following the example of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, the child as a reminder that the eyes of God are open to the world and every human being (cf. Zech 12:4).God's eyes are open upon us because He is faithful to his love! Only this certainty can lead humanity towards goals of peace and prosperity, in this historical moment delicate and complex. Also the next World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro will be for you university students a great opportunity to show the historical fruitfulness of God's faithfulness, giving your testimony and your commitment to the moral and social renewal of the world. Delivery Icon of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, the Brazilian delegation by the university chaplaincy University of Rome, which this year celebrates its twentieth anniversary, this is a sign of our common commitment to you young university students of Rome.
To Mary, Seat of Wisdom, I entrust all of you and your loved ones, study, teaching, the life of the universities, especially the process of formation and witness in this Year of Faith . The lamps you bring in your chaplaincies power is always supplied by your faith humble but adoring, because each of you is a light of hope and peace in the university.