Pope Francis says "Advent is a time when, instead of thinking about gifts for us, we can give words and gestures of consolation to those who are wounded, as Jesus..." FULL TEXT + Video

St. Peter's Square
Sunday, December 11, 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, happy Sunday!
The Gospel of this third Sunday of Advent speaks to us of John the Baptist who, while in prison, sends his disciples to ask Jesus: "Are you the one who is to come or should we wait for another?" (Mt 11:4). In fact, John, hearing about the works of Jesus, is seized by the doubt whether he is really the Messiah or not. In fact, he was thinking of a severe Messiah who, arriving, would have done justice with power by punishing sinners. Now, instead, Jesus has words and gestures of compassion towards everyone, at the center of his action is the forgiving mercy, whereby "the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are purified, the deaf hear, the the dead are raised, the Gospel is proclaimed to the poor" (v. 5).

However, it does us good to dwell on this crisis of John the Baptist, because he can also say something important to us.
The text underlines that Giovanni is in prison, and this, as well as the physical place, suggests the inner situation that he is experiencing: in prison there is darkness, there is no possibility of seeing clearly and of seeing beyond. Indeed, the Baptist is no longer able to recognize Jesus as the expected Messiah. He is assailed by doubt and sends the disciples to verify: "Go and see if he is the Messiah or not". We are amazed that this happens precisely to John, who had baptized Jesus in the Jordan and had indicated him to his disciples as the Lamb of God (cf. Jn 1:29). But that means that even the greatest believer goes through the tunnel of doubt. And this is not a bad thing, on the contrary, it is sometimes essential for spiritual growth: it helps us to understand that God is always greater than we imagine him; the works he does are astonishing by our calculations; his action is always different, it exceeds our needs and our expectations; and therefore we must never stop seeking him and converting to his true face. A great theologian used to say that God «we need to rediscover him in stages... sometimes believing we are losing him» (H. de Lubac, Sulle vie di Dio, Milan 2008, 25). So does the Baptist: when in doubt, he still looks for him, questions him, "discuses" with him and finally rediscovers him. In short, John, defined by Jesus as the greatest born of a woman (see Mt 11:11), teaches us not to close God in our schemes. This is always the danger, the temptation: to make ourselves a God to our measure, a God to use. And God is something else.
Brothers and sisters, we too can sometimes find ourselves in his situation, in an interior prison, incapable of recognizing the newness of the Lord, whom we perhaps keep a prisoner of the presumption of already knowing everything about him. Dear brothers and sisters, one never knows everything on God, never! Perhaps we have in mind a powerful God who does what he wants, instead of the God of humble meekness, the God of mercy and love, who always intervenes respecting our freedom and our choices. Perhaps it also comes to us to say to him: "Are you really You, so humble, the God who comes to save us?". And something similar can also happen to us with brothers: we have our ideas, our prejudices and we attach rigid labels to others - especially to those who feel different from us. Advent, then, is a time of reversal of perspectives, where we allow ourselves to be amazed by the greatness of God's mercy. Amazement: God always amazes. (We saw him, a little while ago, in the program "In the image of him", they were talking about amazement). God is always the One who arouses amazement in you. A time - Advent - in which, preparing the crib for the Child Jesus, we learn again who our Lord is; a time in which to get out of certain schemes, from certain prejudices towards God and brothers. Advent is a time when, instead of thinking about gifts for us, we can give words and gestures of consolation to those who are wounded, as Jesus did with the blind, deaf and lame.
May the Madonna take us by the hand, as a mother, take us by the hand in these days of preparation for Christmas and help us to recognize in the littleness of the Child the greatness of God who comes.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters!
Yesterday, in Barbacena in Brazil, Isabel Cristina Mrad Campos was beatified. This young woman was killed in 1982 at the age of twenty, in hatred of the faith, for having defended the dignity of a woman and the value of her chastity. May your heroic example inspire young people in particular to give a generous witness of faith and adherence to the Gospel. A round of applause to the new Blessed!
I am following with pain and concern the news arriving from South Sudan about the violent clashes of recent days. We pray to the Lord for peace and national reconciliation, so that attacks cease and civilians are always respected.
Today is World Mountain Day, which invites us to recognize the importance of this wonderful resource for the life of the planet and humanity. This year's theme – “Women move mountains” – it's true, women move mountains! – reminds us of the role of women in caring for the environment and in preserving the traditions of the mountain populations. From mountain people we learn the sense of community and walking together.
I greet all of you who have come from Rome, from Italy and from many parts of the world. In particular, I greet the faithful of Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Beirut, Cairo, and those of Mexico and Poland. I greet the Tanzanian Catholic community in Italy; the parish groups of Terni, Panzano in Chianti, Perugia, Nozza di Vestone; the Alpini choir of Rome; and the representatives of the citizens who live in the most polluted areas of Italy, hoping for a just solution to their serious problems and to the diseases that come from this polluted environment.
And I would like to send a cordial greeting to the inmates of the "Due Palazzi" prison in Padua: I greet you with affection!
And now I bless the "Bambinelli", that is, the little statues of the Child Jesus which you, dear children and young people, have brought here and which you will then place in the crib on your way home. I invite you to pray, in front of the crib, so that the Lord's Christmas brings a ray of peace to the children of the whole world, especially to those forced to live through the terrible and dark days of war, this war in Ukraine which destroys so many lives, so many lives and many children. The blessing of the Bambinelli… [blesses them].
I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good journey towards Jesus' Christmas. Please, don't forget to pray for me. Have a nice lunch and goodbye.