POPE FRANCIS ON THE 2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT C
Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday, 9 December 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Last Sunday, the liturgy invited us to experience the Season of Advent and of anticipation of the Lord with an attitude of vigilance and also of prayer: “be mindful” and “pray”. Today, the Second Sunday of Advent, we are shown how to give substance to this anticipation: by undertaking a journey of conversion, how to make this anticipation concrete. As a guide on this journey, the Gospel presents the figure of John the Baptist who “went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Lk 3:3). To describe the Baptist’s mission, the Evangelist Luke refers to the ancient prophecy of Isaiah which says: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be brought low” (vv. 4-5).
To prepare the way of the Lord’s coming, it is necessary to take note of the requirements of conversion to which the Baptist invites us. What are these requirements for conversion? First of all we are called to fill the ‘valleys’ caused by coldness and indifference, opening ourselves to others with the same sentiments as Jesus, that is, with affection and fraternal attention which takes on the needs of our neighbours. To fill the valleys caused by coldness. One cannot have a relationship of love, charity and fraternity with one’s neighbours if there are ‘gaps’ just as one cannot travel a road with many potholes. This requires a change of attitude. And all this should also be done with special attention to the neediest. Then there is the need to curtail the indifference caused by pride and arrogance. How many people, perhaps without realizing it, are proud, are indifferent, lack that kindly relationship. It is necessary to overcome this by making concrete gestures of reconciliation with our brothers and sisters, asking for forgiveness for our faults. It is not easy to reconcile with another. One always thinks: “who will take the first step?”. The Lord helps us in this if we are of good will. Indeed, conversion is complete if it leads us to humbly recognize our errors, our infidelity and failings.
The believer is someone who, by being close to his brothers and sisters, like John the Baptist, opens pathways in the desert, that is, he indicates perspectives of hope, even in those existential contexts that are arduous, marked by failure and defeat. We cannot give up in the face of negative situations of closure and rejection: we must not allow ourselves to succumb to the mentality of the world, because the centre of our life is Jesus and his word of light, love and solace. It is He! The Baptist invited the people of his time to conversion, with force, with vigour and with firmness. Nevertheless, he knew how to listen, he knew how to perform gestures of tenderness, gestures of forgiveness toward the multitude of men and women who went to him to confess their sins and to be baptized with the baptism of repentance.
The witness of John the Baptist helps us to go forward in our witness of life. The purity of his proclamation, his courage in proclaiming the truth were able to reawaken the expectation and hope in the Messiah that had long been dormant. Today too, Jesus’ disciples are called to be his humble but courageous witnesses in order to rekindle hope, to make it understood that, despite everything, the Kingdom of God continues to be built day by day with the power of the Holy Spirit. Let each of us ask ourselves: how can I change something in my attitude, in order to prepare the way of the Lord?
May the Virgin Mary help us prepare the way of the Lord day by day, beginning with ourselves; and to scatter around us with steadfast patience, seeds of peace, justice and fraternity.
Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday, 6 December 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
On this second Sunday of Advent, the Liturgy places us in the school of John the Baptist, who preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. Perhaps we ask ourselves, “Why do we have to convert? Conversion is about an atheist who becomes a believer or a sinner who becomes just. But we don’t need it. We are already Christians. So we are okay”. But this isn’t true. In thinking like this, we don’t realize that it is precisely because of this presumption — that we are Christians, that everyone is good, that we’re okay — that we must convert: from the supposition that, all things considered, things are fine as they are and we don’t need any kind of conversion. But let us ask ourselves: is it true that in the various situations and circumstances of life, we have within us the same feelings that Jesus has? Is it true that we feel as Christ feels? For example, when we suffer some wrongdoing or some insult, do we manage to react without animosity and to forgive from the heart those who apologize to us? How difficult it is to forgive! How difficult! “You’re going to pay for this” — that phrase comes from inside! When we are called to share joys or sorrows, do we know how to sincerely weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice? When we should express our faith, do we know how to do it with courage and simplicity, without being ashamed of the Gospel? Thus we can ask ourselves so many questions. We’re not all right. We must always convert and have the sentiments that Jesus had.
The voice of the Baptist still cries in the deserts of humanity today, which are — what are today’s deserts? — closed minds and hardened hearts. And [his voice] causes us to ask ourselves if we are actually following the right path, living a life according to the Gospel. Today, as then, he admonishes us with the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord!” (v. 4). It is a pressing invitation to open one’s heart and receive the salvation that God offers ceaselessly, almost obstinately, because he wants us all to be free from the slavery of sin. But the text of the prophet amplifies this voice, portending that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (v. 6). And salvation is offered to every man, and every people, without exclusion, to each one of us. None of us can say, “I’m a saint; I’m perfect; I’m already saved”. No. We must always accept this offer of salvation. This is the reason for the Year of Mercy: to go farther on this journey of salvation, this path that Jesus taught us. God wants all of mankind to be saved through Jesus, the one mediator (cf. 1 Tim 2:4-6).
Therefore, each one of us is called to make Jesus known to those who do not yet know him. But this is not to proselytize. No, it is to open a door. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16), St Paul declared. If Our Lord Jesus has changed our lives, and he changes it every time we go to him, how can we not feel the passion to make him known to those we encounter at work, at school, in our apartment building, in the hospital, in meeting places? If we look around us, we find people who would be willing to begin — or begin again — a journey of faith were they to encounter Christians in love with Jesus. Shouldn’t we and couldn’t we be these Christians? I leave you this question: “Am I truly in love with Jesus? Am I convinced that Jesus offers me and gives me salvation?” And, if I am in love, I have to make him known! But we must be courageous: lay low the mountains of pride and rivalry; fill in the ravines dug by indifference and apathy; make straight the paths of our laziness and our compromises.
May the Virgin Mary, who is Mother and knows how to do so, help us to tear down the walls and the obstacles that impede our conversion, that is, our journey toward the encounter with the Lord. He alone, Jesus alone can fulfil all the hopes of man!
SEE AS WELL:
Dec. 5, 2021: HOMILY REFLECTION 2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR C. HOW TO MAKE STRAIGHT THE PATHS OF OUR LORD? Read in https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.org/2nd-sunday-of-advent-c-prepare-the-way-for-the-lord-make-straight-his-paths/
Dec. 5, 2021: 2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT C MASS PRAYERS AND READINGS in https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.org/2nd-sunday-of-advent-year-c-mass-prayers-and-readings/
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