POPE FRANCIS ON THE 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR A.
Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be (also) at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday, 27 November 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno, blessed Sunday!
In the Gospel of today’s Liturgy we hear a beautiful promise that introduces us to the Time of Advent: “Your Lord is coming” (Mt 24:42). This is the foundation of our hope, it is what supports us even in the most difficult and painful moments of our life: God is coming, God is near and is coming. Let us never forget this! The Lord always comes, the Lord visits us, the Lord makes himself close, and will return at the end of time to welcome us in his embrace. Before this word, we ask ourselves: How will the Lord come? And how will we recognize him and welcome him? Let us dwell briefly on these two questions.
The first question: how will the Lord come? Very often we hear it said that the Lord is present on our path, that he accompanies us and speaks to us. But perhaps, distracted as we are by many things, this truth remains merely theoretical for us; yes, we know that the Lord is coming but we do not live according to this truth, or we imagine that the Lord will come in a spectacular way, perhaps through some miraculous sign. And instead, Jesus says that he will come as in “the days of Noah” (cf. v. 37). And what did they do in the days of Noah? Simply, the normal, everyday things of life, as always: “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (v. 38). Let us bear this in mind: God is hidden in our life, he is always there – he is concealed in the commonest and most ordinary situations in our life. He does not come in extraordinary events, but in everyday things; he manifests himself in everyday things. He is there, in our daily work, in a chance encounter, in the face of someone in need, even when we face days that seem grey and monotonous, it is right there that we find the Lord, who calls to us, speaks to us and inspires our actions.
However, there is a second question: how can we recognize and welcome the Lord? We must be awake, alert, vigilant. Jesus warns us: there is the danger of not realizing his coming and being unprepared for his visit. I have recalled on other occasions what Saint Augustine said: “I fear the Lord who passes by” (Sermons, 88, 14.13), that is, I fear that he will pass by and I will not recognize him! Indeed, Jesus says that those people in the time of Noah ate and drank “and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away” (v. 39). Pay attention to this: they did not realize anything! They were absorbed in their own things and did not realize that the flood was about to come. Indeed, Jesus says that, when he will come, “two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left” (v. 40). In what sense? What is the difference? Simply that one was vigilant, he was waiting, capable of discerning God’s presence in daily life, whereas the other was distracted, “pulled along”, and did not notice anything.
Brothers and sisters, in this time of Advent, let us be shaken out of our torpor and let us awaken from our slumber! Let’s try to ask ourselves: am I aware of what I am living, am I alert, am I awake? Do I try to recognize God’s present in daily situations, or am I distracted and a little overwhelmed by things? If we are unaware of his coming today, we will also be unprepared when he arrives at the end of times. Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us remain vigilant! Waiting for the Lord to come, waiting for the Lord to come close to us, because he is there, but waiting alert. And may the Holy Virgin, Woman of waiting, who knew how to perceive the passing of God in the humble and hidden life of Nazareth and welcomed him in her womb, help us in this journey of being attentive to wait for the Lord who is among us and passes by.
Saint Peter’s Square
1st Sunday of Advent Year A, 1 December 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the First Sunday of the Time of Advent, a new liturgical year begins. In these four weeks of Advent, the liturgy leads us to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus, while it reminds us that he comes into our lives every day, and will return gloriously at the end of time. This certainty enables us to look trustfully to the future, as we are invited to do by the prophet Isaiah, who with his inspired voice accompanies the entire Advent journey.
In today’s First Reading, Isaiah prophesies that “it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it” (Is 2:2). The temple of the Lord in Jerusalem is presented as the point of convergence and meeting of all peoples. After the Incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus revealed himself as the true temple. Therefore, the marvellous vision of Isaiah is a divine promise and impels us to assume an attitude of pilgrimage, of a journey towards Christ, the meaning and end of all history. Those who hunger and thirst for justice can only find it by following the ways of the Lord, while evil and sin come from the fact that individuals and social groups prefer to follow paths dictated by selfish interests, which cause conflict and war. Advent is the time to welcome the coming of Jesus, who comes as a messenger of peace to show us the ways of God.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts us to be ready for His coming: “Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Mt 24:42). Keeping watch does not mean to have one’s eyes physically open, but to have one’s heart free and facing the right direction, ready to give and to serve. This is keeping watch! The slumber from which we must awaken is constituted of indifference, of vanity, of the inability to establish genuine human relationships, of the inability to take charge of our brother and sister who is alone, abandoned or ill. The expectation of Jesus who is coming must therefore translate into a commitment to vigilance. It is above all a question of wonder before God’s action, at his surprises, and of according him primacy. Vigilance also means, in a concrete sense, being attentive to our neighbour in difficulty, allowing oneself to be called upon by his needs, without waiting for him or her to ask us for help, but learning to foresee, to anticipate, as God always does with us.
May Mary, the vigilant Virgin and Mother of hope, guide us on this journey, helping us to turn our gaze towards the “mountain of the Lord”, the image of Jesus Christ, that attracts all men and all peoples.
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
And today, it is also a joy for me to come and visit you, because today in the Mass we shall all meet Jesus, and we will walk a portion of the journey together.
Always remember this: life is a journey. It is a path, a journey to meet Jesus. At the end, and forever. A journey in which we do not encounter Jesus is not a Christian journey. It is for the Christian to continually encounter Jesus, to watch him, to let himself be watched over by Jesus, because Jesus watches us with love; he loves us so much, he loves us so much and he is always watching over us. To encounter Jesus also means allowing oneself to be gazed upon by him. “But, Father, you know,” one of you might say to me, “you know that this journey is horrible for me, I am such a sinner, I have committed many sins… how can I encounter Jesus?”. And you know that the people whom Jesus most sought out were the greatest sinners; and they reproached him for this, and the people — those who believed themselves righteous — would say: this is no true prophet, look what lovely company he keeps! He was with sinners… And he said: I came for those in need of salvation, in need of healing. Jesus heals our sins. And along the way Jesus comes and forgives us — all of us sinners, we are all sinners — even when we make a mistake, when we commit a sin, when we sin. And this forgiveness that we receive in Confession is an encounter with Jesus. We always encounter Jesus.
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