POPE BENEDICT XVI ON THE 4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR A
BENEDICT XVI ANGELUS St Peter’s Square 4th Sunday of Advent Year A, 19 December 2010
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this Fourth Sunday of Advent the Gospel according to St Matthew recounts the birth of Jesus from St Joseph’s viewpoint. He was betrothed to Mary who, “before they came together… was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:18). The Son of God, fulfilling an ancient prophecy (cf. Is 7:14), became man in the womb of a virgin and this mystery at the same time expressed the love, wisdom and power of God for mankind, wounded by sin. St Joseph is presented as “a just man” (Mt 1:19), faithful to God’s law and ready to do his will. For this reason he enters the mystery of the Incarnation after an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, announcing: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:20-21). Having given up the idea of divorcing Mary secretly, Joseph took her to himself because he then saw God’s work in her with his own eyes.
St Ambrose comments that “Joseph had the amiability and stature of a just man, to make his capacity as a witness worthier” (Exp. Ev. sec. Lucam II, 5: CCL 14,32-33). St Ambrose continues: “He could not have contaminated the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of the Lord, the womb rendered fertile by the mystery” (ibid., II, 6: CCL 14,33). Although he had felt distressed, Joseph “did as the Angel of the Lord commanded him”, certain that he was doing the right thing. And in giving the name of “Jesus” to the Child who rules the entire universe, he placed himself among the throng of humble and faithful servants, similar to the Angels and Prophets, similar to the Martyrs and to the Apostles — as the ancient Eastern hymns sing. In witnessing to Mary’s virginity, to God’s gratuitous action and in safeguarding the Messiah’s earthly life St Joseph announces the miracle of the Lord. Therefore let us venerate the legal father of Jesus (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 532), because the new man is outlined in him, who looks with trust and courage to the future. He does not follow his own plans but entrusts himself without reserve to the infinite mercy of the One who will fulfil the prophecies and open the time of salvation.
Dear friends, I would like to entrust all Pastors to St Joseph, universal Patron of the Church, while I urge them to offer “Christ’s [humble] words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world”, (Letter Proclaiming the Year for Priests, 16 June 2009). May our life adhere ever more closely to the Person of Jesus, precisely because “the One who is himself the Word takes on a body, he comes from God as a man, and draws the whole of man’s being to himself, bearing it into the Word of God” (Jesus of Nazareth, New York 2007, p. 334). Let us invoke with trust the Virgin Mary, full of grace, “adorned by God”, so that at Christmas, which is now at hand, our eyes may be opened and see Jesus, and our hearts rejoice in this wonderful encounter of love.
BENEDICT XVI ANGELUS St Peter’s Square 4th Sunday of Advent Year A, 23 December 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Only one day separates this 4th Sunday of Advent Year A from Holy Christmas. Tomorrow night we will gather together to celebrate the great mystery of love which never ceases to amaze us: God became the Son of Man so that we might become children of God. During Advent, a frequent entreaty has risen from the heart of the Church: “Come, Lord, visit us with your peace, your presence will fill us with joy”. The Church’s evangelizing mission is the response to the cry “Come, Lord Jesus” that pervades all of salvation history and continues to rise from believers’ lips. Come, Lord, transform our hearts, so that justice and peace may be spread in the world! The Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization, recently published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, intends to recall this. In fact, the Document sets out to remind all Christians – in a situation in which the actual reason why evangelization exists is often no longer clear even to many of the faithful – that “the acceptance of the Good News in faith is thus dynamically ordered to” (n. 7) communicating salvation received as a gift.
Indeed, “The truth which saves one’s life inflames the heart of the one who has received it with a love of neighbour that motivates him to pass on to others in freedom what he has freely been given” (ibid.) Being reached by the presence of God who makes himself close to us at Christmas is a priceless gift. It is a gift that can make us “live within the universal embrace of the friends of God” (ibid.), in that “network of friendship with Christ which connects heaven and earth” (ibid., n. 9), which directs human freedom towards its fulfilment and, if it is lived in its truth, blossoms “in a love that is freely given and which overflows with care for the good of all people” (ibid., n. 7). Nothing is more beautiful, urgent and important than freely offering to men and women, in turn, what we ourselves have freely received from God! Nothing can dispense or relieve us from this burdensome but fascinating commitment. While the joy of Christmas that we already anticipate fills us with hope, it spurs us at the same time to proclaim to everyone God’s presence in our midst.
The Virgin Mary, who did not communicate to the world an idea but Jesus, the Incarnate Word, is an unparalleled model of evangelization. Let us invoke her with trust so that, in our time too, the Church may proclaim Christ, the Saviour. May every Christian and every community feel the joy of sharing with others the Good News that “God so loved the world that he gave his Only Son… that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3: 16-17). This is the authentic meaning of Christmas, which we must rediscover and live intensely.
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