St. Peter's Square
Sunday, December 9th 2018
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Last Sunday the liturgy invited us to live the time of Advent and the Lord's waiting with the attitude of vigilance and also of prayer: "watch" and "pray". Today, the second Sunday of Advent, we are shown how to give substance to this expectation: by undertaking a journey of conversion, how to make this expectation concrete. As a guide for this journey, the Gospel presents us the figure of John the Baptist, who "traveled throughout the Jordan region, preaching a baptism of conversion for the forgiveness of sins" (Lk 3: 3). To describe the mission of the Baptist, the evangelist Luke collects the ancient prophecy of Isaiah, which says: "Voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord, straighten his paths! Every ravine will be filled, every mountain and every hill will be lowered "(verses 4-5).
To prepare the way for the Lord who comes, it is necessary to take into account the demands of conversion to which the Baptist invites. What are these needs for a conversion? First of all we are called to reclaim the depressions produced by coldness and indifference, opening ourselves to others with the same sentiments of Jesus, that is, with that cordiality and fraternal attention that takes responsibility for the needs of our neighbor. Reclaim the depressions produced by coldness. You can not have a relationship of love, of charity, of fraternity with others if there are "holes", as you can not go on a road with many holes. This requires changing the attitude. And all this, do it even with special care for the most needy. Then we need to lower so much harshness caused by pride and pride. How many people, perhaps without realizing it, is superb, it is harsh, it does not have that relationship of cordiality. We need to overcome this by making concrete gestures of reconciliation with our brothers, asking for forgiveness of our faults. It is not easy to reconcile. We always think: "who takes the first step?". The Lord helps us in this, if we have good will. Conversion, in fact, is complete if it leads to humbly recognizing our mistakes, our infidelities, and non-compliances.
The believer is the one who, through his being close to his brother, as John the Baptist opens roads in the desert, that is, indicates prospects of hope even in those impervious existential contexts, marked by failure and defeat. We can not give in to negative situations of closure and rejection; we must not allow ourselves to be subjected to the mentality of the world, because the center of our life is Jesus and his word of light, of love, of consolation. And he! The Baptist invited the people of his time to conversion with force, vigor, and severity. Yet he knew how to listen, he knew how to perform gestures of tenderness, gestures of forgiveness towards the multitude of men and women who came to him to confess their sins and be baptized with the baptism of penitence.
The testimony of John the Baptist helps us to move forward in our testimony of life. The purity of his proclamation, his courage in proclaiming the truth, succeeded in reawakening the expectations and hopes of the Messiah that had long been dormant. Even today, the disciples of Jesus are called to be his humble but courageous witnesses to rekindle hope, to make it understood that, despite everything, the kingdom of God continues to be built day by day with the power of the Holy Spirit. We think, each of us: how can I change something of my attitude, to prepare the way for the Lord?
May the Virgin Mary help us to prepare the way of the Lord day by day, beginning with ourselves; and to spread around us, with tenacious patience, seeds of peace, justice and fraternity.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet with affection all of you, pilgrims from Rome, from Italy and from various parts of the world.
In particular, I greet the many young people of the diocese of Orvieto-Todi. Thank you and have a good journey of Advent!
I greet the faithful of Trapani, Caltagirone and Bronte, and the
Confirmation candidates of the Oratory of Almè (Bergamo).
A cordial greeting of good Sunday to all. And please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!