May you therefore be able to make a community with them all, united in listening to the Word of God and in the celebration of the sacraments and of the Eucharist in particular. In this regard the pastoral verification of the diocese that is under way, on the theme: “Sunday Eucharist and the witness of charity”, is a propitious opportunity to examine deeply and live better these two fundamental components of the life and mission of the Church and of every individual believer, that is, the Sunday Eucharist and the practice of charity.
Gathered round the Eucharist, it is easier to feel that the mission of every Christian community is to take the message of God’s love to all human beings. This is why it is important that the Eucharist always be at the heart of the faithful’s life.
I would also like to address a special word of affection and friendship to you, dear children and young people who are listening to me, and to your peers who live in this Parish. The Church expects much of you, of your enthusiasm, of your capacity for looking ahead and of your desire for radicalism in life’s decisions. May you feel you are real protagonists in the parish, putting your fresh energies and your whole life at the service of God and of the brethren.
Dear brothers and sisters, next to the invitation to rejoice, today’s Liturgy, with the words of St James that we have heard, also asks us to be constant and patient in waiting for the Lord who comes and to be so together, as a community, avoiding complaints and criticism (cf. James 5:7-10).
In the Gospel we heard the question asked by John the Baptist who was in prison: John, who had proclaimed the coming of the Judge who would change the world, and now felt had that the world has remained the same. Thus he sends word to Jesus asking: “Are you ‘He who is to come’, or shall we look for another?”. Is it you or should we expect another?
In the past two or three centuries many have asked: “But is it really you? Or must the world be changed in a more radical manner? Will you not do it?”.
And a great tide of prophets, ideologists and dictators have come and said: “It is not him! He did not change the world! It is we!”. And they created their empires, their dictatorships, their totalitarianism which was supposed to change the world. And they changed it, but in a destructive manner. Today we know that of these great promises nothing remained but a great void and great destruction. It was not they.
And thus we must see Christ again and ask Christ: “Is it you?” The Lord, in his own silent way, answers: “You see what I did, I did not start a bloody revolution, I did not change the world with force; but lit many I, which in the meantime form a pathway of light through the millenniums”.
Let us start here in our Parish with St Maximilian Kolbe, who offered to die of hunger himself in order to save the father of a family. What a great light he became! How much light shone from this figure and encouraged others to give themselves, to be close to the suffering and the oppressed!
Let us think of Damien de Veuster who was a father to lepers, and who lived and died with and for lepers, and has thus brought light to this community.
Let us think of Mother Teresa, who gave so much light to people that, after a life without light, they died with a smile because they were touched by the light of God’s love.
And thus we shall be able to continue and we shall see, as the Lord said in his answer to John, that it is not the violent revolution of the world, but rather the silent light of the truth, of the goodness of God that is the sign of his presence and gives us the certainty that we are loved to the end and are not forgotten, that we are not a product of chance but of a will to love.
Thus we may live, we may feel God’s nearness. “God is close”, says today’s First Reading, he is near us but we are often distant. Let us draw near, let us move into the presence of his light, let us pray the Lord that through contact with him in prayer we ourselves will become light for others.
And this is precisely also the meaning of the parish church: to enter here, to enter into conversation, into contact with Jesus, with the Son of God, so that we ourselves may become one of the smallest lights that he has lit to carry his light into the world which feels it must be redeemed.
Our spirit must be open to this invitation and let us thus walk joyfully towards Christmas, like the Virgin Mary who awaited the Redeemer’s birth in prayer, with intimate and joyful trepidation.
St Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this Third Sunday of Advent, the Liturgy presents to us a passage from the Letter of St James, which opens with this exhortation: “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7). It seems to me especially important, in our day, to underline the value of constancy and persistence, virtues which belonged to the normal baggage of our ancestors but today are less popular, in a world which exalts, rather, the change and capacity to adapt oneself to ever new and diverse situations.
Taking nothing from these features, which are also human qualities, Advent calls us to develop inner tenacity, resistance of the spirit, which enables us not to despair while waiting for a good that is slow in coming, but on the contrary to prepare for its coming with active trust.
“Behold,” James writes, “the farmer 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. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:7-8).
The comparison drawn with the farmer is very expressive, he has sown the field and has before him several months of patient and constant waiting, but he knows that in the meantime the seed completes its cycle, thanks to the autumn and spring rains. The farmer is not a fatalist but the model of a mentality which unites faith and reason in a balanced way. For on the one hand he knows the laws of nature and does his work well, and on the other, he trusts in Providence, because certain fundamental things are not in his hands but in the hands of God. Patience and constancy are truly a synthesis between human commitment and confidence in God.
“Establish your hearts”, Scripture says. How can we do this? How can we strengthen our hearts, already somewhat frail in themselves and rendered even more unstable by the culture in which we are immersed. Help is not lacking; it is the Word of God. In fact, while everything else passes and changes, the Word of the Lord is not transient. If the events of life make us feel bewildered and every certainty seems to crumble, we have a compass to guide us, we have an anchor to prevent us from drifting away.
Here the model offered to us is that of the prophets, namely those people whom God called so that they might speak in his name. The prophet finds his joy and strength in the word of God and while humans often search for happiness in ways that prove erroneous, he announces true hope, which does not disappoint because it is founded on the fidelity of God.
Every Christian, by virtue of Baptism, has received prophetic dignity. May each one rediscover and nourish it, by listening assiduously to the divine Word. May the Virgin Mary, whom the Gospel calls blessed because she believed in the fulfilment of the words of the Lord, obtain this for us (Luke 1:45).
After the Angelus :
My first greeting goes to the children and young people of Rome. Thank you for coming! You have come for the traditional blessing of the Baby Jesus figurines for your cribs. Dear young friends, when you place the Baby Jesus in the grotto or stable, say a prayer for the Pope and his intentions. Thank you!
I also greet your parents, teachers and catechists. I thank the Centro Oratori Romani (Roman Centre for After-School Activities and Prayer Groups) for this initiative and I likewise thank the Santa Marta Pediatric Clinic.
I then desire to remind you that next Thursday afternoon, 16 December, in St Peter’s Basilica, I shall celebrate Vespers with the university students in Rome, in preparation for Holy Christmas.
I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for our Angelus prayer. The Liturgy of this Third Sunday of Advent, marked by joyful expectation of the Lord’s coming, invites us to open our eyes to the many signs of Christ’s saving power in our midst. May these days of preparation for Christmas be for all of us, a time of attentiveness to God’s word, genuine conversion and inner renewal. Upon you and your families I invoke joy and peace in Jesus our Saviour. I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week!
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Pope Benedict XVI, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
22 December 2013
Homily of Pope Francis I on 3rd Sunday of Advent, 15 December 2013.
It was the 4th Sunday of Advent on 22 December 2013.
Here are the Readings that were read in the Eucharistic Celebrations all over the world on the same day (see above):
1st Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14,
Responsorial: Psalm 24:1-6,
2nd Reading: Romans 1:1-7 &
Gospel Reading: Matthew 1:18-24.
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: See next page.
22 December 2013
1st Reading: Extracted from the prophet Isaiah 7:10-14
The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’
Then Isaiah said: ‘Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel, a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’
Responsorial: Extracted from Psalm 24:1-6
Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.
The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and all its peoples.
It is he who set it on the seas; on the waters he made it firm.
Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place?
The man with clean hands and pure heart, who desires not worthless things.
He shall receive blessings from the Lord and reward from the God who saves him.
Such are the men who seek him, seek the face of the God of Jacob.
2nd Reading: Extracted from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans 1:1-7
From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.
This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David: it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead.
Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name.
You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ. To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.
Gospel Reading: Extracted from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 1:18-24
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.
Find out more about Saint Joseph > Encouragements-37