4. "Watch ... watch". This admonition that Jesus addresses to us in the Gospel (cf. Mark 13:33) is the basic message of the Advent season: to be vigilant while waiting for the Messiah. Let us remain alert, dear brothers and sisters, to be ready to meet the Saviour who comes to reveal to us the face of the heavenly Father.
May Mary, the humble Virgin of Nazareth, chosen by God to become Mother of the Redeemer, make fruitful our prayerful and attentive waiting for the Redeemer. Amen!
Mabuhay ang Filipinas [Long live the Filipinos].
JOHN PAUL II
First Sunday of advent
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today, with the First Sunday of Advent we begin a new liturgical year. The God of the covenant revealed himself in history and in history the Church celebrates the mystery of salvation: the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this way, the journey of believers is continually renewed, extending between what Christ has "already" realized and the "not yet" of his full revelation.
God is the future of the human person and of the world. If humanity loses the meaning of God, it will close itself to the future and inevitably lose the perspective of its pilgrim journey in time. Why birth, why death? Why sacrifice, why suffering?
To these questions, Christianity offers a satisfying answer. For this reason, Christ is the hope of humanity. He is the true meaning of our present, because he is our sure future.
2. Advent reminds us that he has come, and that he will come. The life of believers is a continuous and vigilant waiting for his coming. Today, the invitation to watch and to wait is underlined with insistence by St Mark, who, throughout the new liturgical year, will guide us in the discovery of the mystery of Christ.
In today's passage taken from the second of the great discourses of Jesus, the evangelist points out the final meaning of history and of creation and exhorts us to make of our lives an unceasing quest for Christ. From our being with him and from the contemplation of his countenance come the missionary vigour that will help us to leave our grey daily routine in order to be his courageous witnesses.
3. On this journey of conversion and of apostolic dedication, Mary, the bright dawn and the sure guide of our steps, accompanies us. She does it in a special way by inviting us to contemplate the joyful mysteries of the Rosary. We look to her with confidence while she prepares us to celebrate next Sunday the solemn feast of her Immaculate Conception.
To the English-speaking visitors
I extend a special welcome to the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, and in particular to the Filipino groups and parish groups from the United States who have come to pray at the tomb of St Peter. Upon all of you and your families I invoke the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
St Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Advent begins this Sunday. It is a very evocative religious season because it is interwoven with hope and spiritual expectation: every time the Christian community prepares to commemorate the Redeemer's birth, it feels a quiver of joy which to a certain extent it communicates to the whole of society.
In Advent, Christians relive a dual impulse of the spirit: on the one hand, they raise their eyes towards the final destination of their pilgrimage through history, which is the glorious return of the Lord Jesus; on the other, remembering with emotion his birth in Bethlehem, they kneel before the Crib.
The hope of Christians is turned to the future but remains firmly rooted in an event of the past. In the fullness of time, the Son of God was born of the Virgin Mary: "Born of a woman, born under the law", as the Apostle Paul writes (Galatians 4:4).
Today's Gospel invites us to stay on guard as we await the final coming of Christ. "Look around you!", Jesus says. "You do not know when the master of the house is coming" (Mark 13:35). The short parable of the master who went on a journey and the servants responsible for acting in his place highlights how important it is to be ready to welcome the Lord when he suddenly returns.
We might say that Advent is the season in which Christians must rekindle in their hearts the hope that they will be able with God's help to renew the world.
In this regard I would also like to remember today the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, on the Church in the Modern World: it is a text deeply imbued with Christian hope.
I am referring in particular to n. 39, entitled "New Heavens and a New Earth". In it we read: "We are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (cf. II Corinthians 5:2; II Peter 3:13).... Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectancy of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows".
Indeed, we will find the good fruits of our hard work when Christ delivers to the Father his eternal and universal Kingdom. May Mary Most Holy, Virgin of Advent, obtain that we live this time of grace in a watchful and hardworking way while we await the Lord.
After the Angelus:
On the First Sunday of Advent I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for our Angelus prayer. May this season of joyful expectation and spiritual preparation for the Lord's coming be a time of sincere conversion and interior renewal for all Christians. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God's Blessings of wisdom, joy and peace.
I wish you all a peaceful Sunday. And we can see that they are beginning to build the Crib in St Peter's Square. So I wish you a good journey through Advent. Happy Sunday and happy Advent!
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
First Sunday of Advent, 30 November 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today on the First Sunday of Advent, we enter that four-week Season with which a new liturgical year begins and that immediately prepares us for the Feast of Christmas, the memorial of the Incarnation of Christ in history. Yet, the spiritual message of Advent is more profound and already orients us to the glorious return of the Lord at the end of our history. Adventus is the Latin word that could be translated by "arrival", "coming" or "presence". In the language of the ancient world it was a technical term that indicated the arrival of an official, and especially the visit of kings or emperors to the provinces, but it could also be used for the appearance of a divinity, which emerged from its hidden dwelling-place and thus manifested its divine power; its presence was solemnly celebrated with worship.
By using this term, "Advent", Christians wanted to express the special relationship that bound them to the Crucified and Risen Christ. He is a King who, having entered this poor province called earth, made us the gift of his visit and after his Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven desired in any case to stay with us; we perceive his mysterious presence in the liturgical assembly. Indeed, in celebrating the Eucharist, we proclaim that he did not withdraw from the world, that he did not leave us alone and, even though we cannot see and touch him as with material and tangible realities, he is in any case with us and among us. Indeed, he is in us, because he can attract to himself and communicate his life to every believer who opens his/her heart to him. Thus, Advent means commemorating the first coming of the Lord in the flesh, with his definitive return already in mind, and, at the same time, it means recognizing that Christ present in our midst makes himself our travelling companion in the life of the Church who celebrates his mystery. This knowledge, dear brothers and sisters, nourished by listening to the Word of God, must help us to see the world with different eyes, to interpret the individual events of life and history as words that God addresses to us, as signs of his love that assure us of his closeness in every situation; this awareness, in particular, should prepare us to welcome him when "he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end", as in a little while we shall repeat in the Creed. In this perspective, Advent becomes for all Christians a time of expectation and hope, a privileged time for listening and reflection, as long as we let ourselves be guided by the liturgy, which invites us to advance to meet the Lord who comes.
Continue next page ...
27 December 2014