POPE BENEDICT XVI ON THE 1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT C
Saint Peter’s Square
First Sunday of Advent, 2 December 2012
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today the Church begins a new Liturgical Year, a journey which, 50 years after the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, is further enriched by the Year of Faith. The first Season on this itinerary is Advent, formed — in the Roman Rite — of the four weeks preceding the Nativity of Our Lord, that is, the mystery of the Incarnation.
The word “advent” means “coming” or “presence”. In the ancient world it meant the visit of the king or emperor to a province; in the Christian language it refers to the Coming of God, to his presence in the world; a mystery that embraces the entire cosmos and history, but that has two culminating events: the First and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The first is, precisely, the Incarnation. The second is his glorious return at the end of time. These two events that are chronologically distant — and we are not given to know by how long — are deeply connected, because with his death and Resurrection Jesus fulfilled that transformation of man and of the cosmos which is the final goal of Creation. However, before the end, the Gospel must be proclaimed to all the nations, as Jesus says in the Gospel according to St Mark (cf. Mk 13:10). The Lord’s Coming continues, the world must be penetrated by his presence and this ongoing Coming of the Lord in the proclamation of the Gospel requires our continuous collaboration. Moreover the Church, who is, as it were, the Betrothed, the promised Bride of the Lamb of the Crucified and Risen God (cf. Rev 21:9), in communion with her Lord, collaborates in this Coming of the Lord, in which his glorious return has already begun.
Today the word of God calls us to this, outlining the lines of conduct we should follow to be ready for the Lord’s Coming. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says to the disciples: “take heed… lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life… at at all times, praying” (Lk 21:34, 36). Therefore, moderation and prayer. And the Apostle Paul adds the invitation to “increase and abound in love” among ourselves and for everyone, to make our hearts blameless in holiness (cf. 1 Thess 3:12-13).
In the midst of the upheavals of the world or in the deserts of indifference and materialism, may Christians accept salvation from God and bear witness to it with a different way of life, like a city set upon a hill. “In those days”, the Prophet Jeremiah announced, “Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: The Lord is our righteousness” (33:16). The community of believers is a sign of God’s love, of his justice which is already present and active in history but is not yet completely fulfilled and must therefore always be awaited, invoked and sought with patience and courage.
The Virgin Mary perfectly embodies the spirit of Advent that consists in listening to God, with a profound desire to do his will and to serve our neighbour joyfully. Let us allow ourselves to be guided by her, so that God who comes may not find us closed or distracted but rather may extend a little of his kingdom of love, justice and peace in each of us.
St Peter’s Square
First Sunday of Advent, 29 November 2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This Sunday, by the grace of God, a new Liturgical Year opens, of course, with Advent, a Season of preparation for the birth of the Lord. The Second Vatican Council, in the Constitution on the Liturgy, affirms that the Church “in the course of the year… unfolds the whole mystery of Christ from the Incarnation and Nativity to the Ascension, to Pentecost and the expectation of the blessed hope of the Coming of the Lord“. In this way, “recalling the mysteries of the redemption, she opens up to the faithful the riches of her Lord’s powers and merits, so that these are in some way made present for all time; the faithful lay hold of them and are filled with saving grace” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 102). The Council insists on the fact that the centre of the Liturgy is Christ, around whom the Blessed Virgin Mary, closest to him, and then the martyrs and the other saints who “sing God’s perfect praise in Heaven and intercede for us” (ibid., n. 104) revolve like the planets around the sun.
This is the reality of the Liturgical Year seen, so to speak, “from God’s perspective”. And from the perspective, let us say, of humankind, of history and of society what importance can it have? The answer is suggested to us precisely by the journey through Advent on which we are setting out today. The contemporary world above all needs hope; the developing peoples need it, but so do those that are economically advanced. We are becoming increasingly aware that we are all on one boat and together must save each other. Seeing so much false security collapse, we realize that what we need most is a trustworthy hope. This is found in Christ alone. As the Letter to the Hebrews says, he “is the same yesterday and today and for ever (Heb 13: 8). The Lord Jesus came in the past, comes in the present and will come in the future. He embraces all the dimensions of time, because he died and rose; he is “the Living One”. While he shares our human precariousness, he remains forever and offers us the stability of God himself. He is “flesh” like us and “rock” like God. Whoever yearns for freedom, justice, and peace may rise again and raise his head, for in Christ liberation is drawing near (cf. Lk 21: 28) as we read in today’s Gospel. We can therefore say that Jesus Christ is not only relevant to Christians, or only to believers, but to all men and women, for Christ, who is the centre of faith, is also the foundation of hope. And every human being is constantly in need of hope.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Virgin Mary fully embodies a humanity that lives in hope based on faith in the living God. She is the Virgin of Advent: she is firmly established in the present, in the “today” of salvation. In her heart she gathers up all past promises, and encompasses the future. Let us learn from her in order to truly enter this Season of grace and to accept, with joy and responsibility, the coming of God in our personal and social lives.
Saint Peter’s Square
First Sunday of Advent, 3 December 2006
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I would like once again to thank the Lord, together with you, for the Apostolic Journey which I made to Turkey in these past few days: I felt accompanied and sustained by the prayer of the entire Christian community. My cordial thanks to all!
Next Wednesday, at the General Audience, I will have the opportunity to speak more expansively about this unforgettable spiritual and pastoral experience, which I hope will bear fruits of good for an ever more sincere cooperation among all Christ’s disciples and a profitable dialogue with Muslim believers.
I am now eager to renew my gratitude to all those who organized the Visit and helped in various ways to ensure that it went peacefully and fruitfully. I address a special thought to the Turkish Authorities and to the friendly Turkish People who gave me a welcome worthy of their traditional spirit of hospitality.
I would like here to recall above all the beloved Catholic community which lives on Turkish territory. I am thinking of it this Sunday as we enter the Season of Advent.
I was able to meet and celebrate Holy Mass with these brothers and sisters of ours who live in conditions that are frequently difficult. It is truly a small flock, variegated, rich in enthusiasm and faith, which we might say lives the Advent experience constantly and vividly, sustained by hope.
In Advent, the liturgy frequently repeats and assures us, as if to overcome our natural diffidence, that God “comes”: he comes to be with us in every situation of ours, he comes to dwell among us, to live with us and within us; he comes to fill the gaps that divide and separate us; he comes to reconcile us with him and with one another.
He comes into human history to knock at the door of every man and every woman of good will, to bring to individuals, families and peoples the gifts of brotherhood, harmony and peace.
This is why Advent is par excellence the season of hope in which believers in Christ are invited to remain in watchful and active waiting, nourished by prayer and by the effective commitment to love. May the approaching Nativity of Christ fill the hearts of all Christians with joy, serenity and peace!
To live this Advent period more authentically and fruitfully, the liturgy urges us to look at Mary Most Holy and to set out in spirit together with her towards the Bethlehem Grotto. When God knocked at the door of her young life, she welcomed him with faith and love.
In a few days we will contemplate her in the luminous mystery of her Immaculate Conception. Let us allow ourselves to be attracted by her beauty, a reflection of divine glory, so that “the God who comes” will find in each one of us a good and open heart that he can fill with his gifts.
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