It was the 3rd Sunday of Advent on 15 December 2013.
Here are the Readings that were read in the Eucharistic Celebrations all over the world on the same day (see previous page):
1st Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6, 10,
Responsorial: Psalm 146:6-10,
2nd Reading: James 5:7-10 &
Gospel Reading: Matthew 11:2-11.
We have extracted the Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I based on the aforesaid Readings to share with you, so that you could similarly be encouraged:
VISIT TO THE PARISH OF ST JULIE BILLIART IN ROME
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Third Sunday of Advent, 13 December 1998
1. "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near" (Entrance antiphon).
It is from this pressing invitation to rejoice, which characterizes today's liturgy, that the Third Sunday of Advent, traditionally called "Gaudete" Sunday, takes its name. This is actually the first word of today's Mass in Latin: "Gaudete", that is, rejoice, be glad because the Lord is near!
The Gospel text helps us to understand the reason for our joy, as it underscores the great mystery of salvation that takes place at Christmas. The Evangelist Matthew speaks to us of Jesus, "he who is to come" (Matthew 11:3), who reveals himself as the awaited Messiah through his saving work: "the blind receive their sight and the lame walk ... the poor have good news preached to them" (Matthew 11:5). He comes to console, to restore serenity and hope to the suffering, to those tired and discouraged in life.
There are still many, even in our day, who are enveloped in the darkness of ignorance and have not received the light of faith; many are lame and have difficulty in walking on the right paths; many are disappointed or discouraged; many are affected by the leprosy of sin and evil and are waiting to be saved. It is to all these that the "good news" of the Gospel, entrusted to the Christian community, is addressed. The Church, on the threshold of the third millennium, vigorously proclaims that Christ is the true liberator of man, the one who leads all humanity back to the paternal and merciful embrace of God.
2. "Be strong, fear not! Behold your God ... he will come and save you" (Isaiah 35:4).
Dear brothers and sisters of St Julie Billiart Parish, in greeting you with great affection, I make my own the words of the prophet Isaiah proclaimed a few moments ago: "Be strong, fear not ... your God will come and save you!". These words are the wish I extend to all those God grants me to meet in every part of the world. They summarize what I also wish to tell you this morning. My presence is meant as an invitation to courage, to perseverance in giving an account of the hope that is in each of you because of faith.
"Courage!". Do not be afraid of the difficulties you meet in proclaiming the Gospel. Sustained by the grace of the Lord, do not tire of being apostles of Christ in our city which, even though threatened by the numerous risks of secularization typical of a large metropolis, still has Christian roots and from these it can draw the spiritual nourishment to respond to the challenges of our time. The positive fruits that the City Mission is bearing, for which we thank the Lord, are a strong encouragement to continue the work of the new evangelization without hesitation.
With these sentiments I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Vicegerent, your parish priest, Fr Adriano Graziani of the Sons of Mary Immaculate (Pavonians) and his brothers who share responsibility with him for guiding the community. My cordial greeting goes also to the members of the pastoral council and to all those belonging to the groups, associations and movements that work in the parish. I would like gratefully to mention the late parish priest, Fr Fortunato Dellandrea, who greatly loved the parish and worked so hard to build this new church where we are today. Together with him, we wish to remember all the deceased of the community, whom we entrust to God's mercy.
3. Your community was founded in 1976, after being broken off from the highly populated parish of St Barnabas the Apostle. It too is entrusted to the pastoral care of the Pavonian Fathers. Populated mainly by people who came in the 1960s from central and southern Italy, the neighbourhood of Torpignattara underwent great expansion until, in the last decade, many young people married and moved away.
Just as in other outlying areas, where suitable places for gathering, instruction and recreation are lacking, here too the parish is the only centre for social activities. For this reason it has been rightly provided with a beautiful new church and facilities for apostolic and community activities.
On this day, dedicated to the collection for the building of new churches, I give thanks to God for the construction of new centres essential for worship on the outskirts of the city. At the same time, I invite all the faithful to collaborate generously in the important ecclesial work known as "Fifty Churches for Rome 2000".
Furthermore, here, as in other neighbourhoods, many difficulties are encountered in educating children, adolescents and young people in the faith. I also know that your parish is responding to this challenge with a renewed family ministry. I congratulate you and urge you to carry on this project of supporting families, especially those in difficulty, so that the younger generation may find, precisely within a healthy family environment, help in making mature decisions about their faith and Christian life.
Never tire of welcoming young people and offering them special times for formation, especially when they cannot, unfortunately, count on the support of their families. In these cases, the parish community is called to intervene with the help of persons who are ready to listen to their questions and respond to their existential and religious expectations.
4. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he sent me to bring Good News to the poor". These words of the Gospel acclamation are well suited to the City Mission, which has entered its final phase and in which all Christians are encouraged to bring the Gospel to the various areas of the city. Last Tuesday, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Letter I addressed to them was published. In it I emphasized that "the quality of the workplace depends primarily on individuals. It is their efforts that can make it a vital place for collaboration, communion and relationships marked by respect and mutual esteem, by cooperation and solidarity, and by a witness consistent with the moral values of their own profession. As Scripture recalls: "A brother helped by a brother is like a strong city" (Proverbs 18:19)" (n. 6).
This morning, as I symbolically entrust my Letter to you and to all the parishes of Rome, I sincerely hope that all Christians will be aware of the urgent need to transmit to others, but especially to young people, those Gospel values that promote the "civilization of love".
5. "Be patient ... until the coming of the Lord" (James 5:7). With the message of joy characteristic of this "Gaudete" Sunday, the liturgy combines the invitation to have patience and to wait vigilantly for the coming of the Saviour, who is now close at hand.
In this regard we must know how to accept and face difficulties and adversity with a glad heart, while patiently waiting for the Saviour who comes. Eloquent is the example of the farmer that the Letter of St James offers us. He "waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain". "You also be patient", the Apostle continues, "establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (James 5:7-8).
Let us open our spirit to this invitation; let us go forward with joy towards the mystery of Christmas. May Mary, who silently and prayerfully awaited the Redeemer's birth, help us to make our hearts a dwelling place to receive him worthily.
JOHN PAUL II
Sunday 13 December 1998
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. Continuing our reflection on the Encyclical Fides et ratio, today I would like to stress the existence of truth as the common presupposition of faith and reason. Actually, when man asks questions, he does so in the desire and hope of finding an answer to them.
Sometimes the truth is difficult to seek, as though it were never possessed once and for all, and the experience of error prompts us to be humble and tolerant. At the same time, however, there is no reason for a scepticism that radically questions the very possibility of the human being attaining truth. Where scepticism takes root, sound criteria of judgement and discernment fail, and human existence is prey to the emotions and in danger of lacking foundation.
2. Really, if man experiences difficulty in reaching truth and certitude about many things, he notices however that there are fundamental realities and principles on which there is full and universal certitude.
These truths are the very condition for thought, existence and society. They enable us to communicate, to search, to recognize our mistakes, to live together and to love.
Empirical science itself proves the existence of truth. It appears as a process marked by partial achievements and the gradual overcoming of errors. For this very reason all genuine scientific knowledge is a step towards the fullness of truth. This applies to other areas of knowledge as well. Therefore, in the Encyclical Fides et ratio I pointed out a core of philosophical insight within the history of thought as a whole, which "may be judged a kind of spiritual heritage of humanity" (Fides et ratio, n. 4).
For its part, although the Revelation that comes from on high and has its fullness in Christ leads us to a deeper knowledge of the mystery of God and his saving plan, it is never opposed to the truths already attained by the light of reason; rather it verifies them, purifies them and strengthens them.
3. Dear brothers and sisters, let us entrust to the Blessed Virgin those who are going through periods of confusion and doubt, which make them feel there are no certitudes or hope. At the same time, let us learn humility and boldness from Mary so that we can always advance towards the truth, seeking it and bearing witness to it with all our strength. May she help us understand that the search for truth, in the last analysis, is a search for God.
After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke of some forthcoming events in Rome and blessed the figures of the Child Jesus that Italian children would put in their cribs at home.
Now I would like to mention some activities that concern the Christian community in Rome.
First of all, today we are celebrating the day for the building of new churches on the city's outskirts. Parishes are not only places of worship but are often buildings of artistic beauty, meeting places and centres for aiding so many social needs in the area. I hope that believers and all Romans will show more and more generous solidarity so that an adequate number of parish facilities can be provided for the outlying neighbourhoods.
Next Tuesday, at 5.30 p.m., I will celebrate Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the city's university students; this has now become a tradition as Christmas approaches. I invite all the teachers and students to this event, which this year has a very special meaning because it is part of the City Mission, which at this stage is directed to the milieus of study and work.
Next I would like to greet the many children in the square with their statues of the Child Jesus and their cribs. Dear friends, I cordially bless the "Bambinelli" you have brought with you. They will carry the Christmas message of peace to your families, your schools and your places of recreation.
The crib they are building here in the square makes us think of Greccio, where St Francis of Assisi set up the first Nativity scene. Today a "Peace Appeal" is being addressed to the world from that town and I gladly support it.
Lastly, I greet all the pilgrims and hope that everyone enters into the Christmas novena, which starts next Wednesday, 16 December, with devout recollection.
A pleasant Sunday to all.
The Special Assembly for Oceania of the Synod of Bishops concluded yesterday. We are grateful for this great experience of the Church and we wish all our Brother Bishops a safe return to their homes, their countries, their islands.
May the Lord's blessing go with them and may they have a happy Christmas.
Again I wish everyone a pleasant Sunday and a good week. Praised be Jesus Christ!
PASTORAL VISIT TO THE ROMAN PARISH
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 16 December 2001
1. "Let the desert and the dry land be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom" (Isaiah 35,1).
For many who are discouraged, the "good news" of salvation resounds: "They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (cf. Isaiah 35,10).
2. "Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God.... He will come and save you" (Isaiah 35,4). The Messianic prophecy restores our confidence by giving us a glimpse of the true and complete liberation, brought about by Jesus Christ. In fact, in the Gospel passage just proclaimed, in his answer to the question of the disciples of John the Baptist, Jesus applies to himself what Isaiah had said: He is the awaited Messiah. Here are his words, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news preached to them" (Matthew 11,4-5).
This is the real reason for our joy: Christ has brought the time of waiting to fulfillment. God has finally brought salvation for every man and woman, for humanity. In this spirit we can get ready to celebrate the feast of Christmas, the extraordinary event that rekindles in our hearts spiritual joy and hope.
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22 December 2013