St. Peter's Square
Sunday, December 15, 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
On this third Sunday of Advent, called Sunday "of joy", the Word of God invites us on the one hand to joy, and on the other to the awareness that existence also includes moments of doubt, in which it is hard to believe. Joy and doubt are both experiences that are part of our life.
To the explicit invitation to the joy of the prophet Isaiah: "Let the desert and the dry land rejoice, let the steppe rejoice and flourish" (35,1), the doubt of John the Baptist is opposed in the Gospel: "You are the one who must come or should we wait for another? "(Mt 11: 3). In fact, the prophet sees beyond the situation: he has before him discouraged people: weak hands, shaky knees, lost hearts (see 35.3-4). It is the same reality that tests faith at all times. But the man of God looks beyond, because the Holy Spirit makes his heart feel the power of his promise, and he announces salvation: "Courage, do not fear! Behold your God, [...] He comes to save you "(v. 4). And then everything is transformed: the desert blooms, the consolation and joy take possession of the lost of heart, the lame, the blind, the mute are healed (see vv. 5-6). This is what is accomplished with Jesus: "the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise, the Gospel is announced to the poor" (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 dying to ourselves and to the sin that is in us. Hence the call to conversion, which is the basis of the preaching of both the Baptist and Jesus; in particular, it is a question of converting the idea we have of God. And the time of Advent encourages us to do so precisely with the question that John the Baptist asks Jesus: "Are you the one who must come or must we wait for another? "(Mt 11: 3). We think: for the whole life John has been waiting for the Messiah; his lifestyle, his own body is shaped by this expectation. This is also why Jesus praises him with these words: no one is greater than he who was born of a woman (see Mt 11,11). And yet, he too had to convert to Jesus. Like John, we too are called to recognize the face that God has chosen to assume in Jesus Christ, humble and merciful.
Advent is a time of grace. It 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 imposed. The Child who lies in the crib has the face of our most needy brothers and sisters, of the poor who "are the privileged of this mystery and, often, those who are most able to recognize the presence of God in our midst" (Letter to . Admirabile signum, 6).
May the Virgin Mary help us, because, as we approach Christmas, we do not let ourselves be distracted by external things, but make space in our heart for Him who has already come and wants to come again to heal our illnesses and give us his joy.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters!
I greet all of you, families, church groups and associations, who have come from Rome, Italy and from many parts of the world. In particular I greet the pilgrims from Korea, Valencia and the Rotzo group (VI).
I greet you, dear children, who have come with the statues of the Child Jesus for your crib. Raise the figurines! I cordially bless you. «The crib is like a living Gospel. [...] While we contemplate the Christmas scene, we are invited to set out spiritually on the way, attracted by the humility of Jesus, God, the One who became man to meet each of us. And we discover that he loves us so much that he joins us, so that we too can unite with him "(see Apostolic Letter Admirabile signum, 1).
In less than a year, from 13 to 20 September 2020, the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Budapest. The Eucharistic Congresses, for more than a century, remind us that the Eucharist is at the center of the Church's life. The theme of the next Congress will be "All my springs are in you" (Ps 87: 7). We pray that "the Eucharistic event in Budapest can promote processes of renewal in the Christian communities" (Address to the Pont. Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, 10 November 2018).
And I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good Christmas Novena. You guys bring the little children for the crib and please don't forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye.