(Vatican Radio) Thousands of pilgrims wrapped in scarves and hats withstood a gelid
northerly wind that swept St Peter’s Square Sunday to pray the midday Angelus prayer
with Pope Benedict XVI, who urged them to prepare their hearts and lives for the coming
of the Lord. Emer McCarthy reports Listen:
the second Sunday of Advent the Pope dwelt on the figure of John the Baptist, presented
in Luke’s Gospel. He spoke of him as ‘the voice’ crying out in the desert of today’s
consumerist society, “where we seek joy in things”. Instead the Baptist teaches us
to live in an essential way, so that Christmas is not only experienced as an outward
celebration, but as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring peace, life and
true joy to people.
“Our aim today” he continued “is to listen to that voice,
to give space and welcome Jesus, the Word that saves us, to our hearts”.
comments in French Pope Benedict said “Advent invites us to go out to meet the Lord,
and therefore we set off on a journey. This reality is very familiar to people forced
to leave their region, for various reasons, including war or poverty. Migrants are
aware of the precarious nature of their situation and often encounter little understanding.
May they be welcomed and have a dignified life! In preparation for Christmas time,
may a joyous and fraternal solidarity come to aid their needs and support their hopes!
Do not forget that every Christian is en route to his or her true home: Heaven. Christ
is the only way!”
Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s
Dear brothers and sisters!
In the season
of Advent, the liturgy particularly emphasizes two figures who prepare the coming
of the Messiah, the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. Today St. Luke presents us with
the latter, and does so with characteristics that differ from the other Evangelists.
"All four Gospels place the figure of John the Baptist at the beginning of Jesus'
ministry, as his precursor. St. Luke has further moved the connection between the
two figures and their respective missions ... Already in their conception and birth,
Jesus and John are brought into relation with each other "(The Infancy of Jesus, 23).
This setting helps to understand that John, as the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth,
both of priestly families, is not only the last of the prophets, but also represents
the whole priesthood of the Old Covenant and therefore prepares men to spiritual worship
of the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus (cf. ibid. 27-28). Luke also dispels a mythical
reading that is often made of the Gospels and historically contextualizes the life
of John the Baptist: "In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate
was governor ... during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas" (Lk 3, 1-2). Within
this historical framework lies the true great event, the birth of Christ, which his
contemporaries will not even notice. By God the great men of history form the backdrop
John the Baptist is defined as the "voice of one crying in the desert:
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths" (Lk 3:4). The voice proclaims
the word, but in this case the Word of God, as it comes down to John the son of Zacharias
in the wilderness (cf. Lk 3:2). Thus he plays an important role, but always in relation
to Christ. St. Augustine says: "John is the voice. Instead of the Lord says: "In the
beginning was the Word" (John 1:1). John is the voice that passes away, Christ is
the eternal Word who was in the beginning. If you take the word away from the voice,
what is left? A faint sound. The voice without the word strikes the hearing, but does
not build up the heart"(Sermon 293, 3). Our aim today is to listen to that voice,
to give space and welcome Jesus, the Word that saves us, to our hearts. In this time
of Advent, let us prepare to see, with the eyes of faith, God's salvation in the humble
stable in Bethlehem (cf. Lk 3:6). In a consumerist society, where we seek joy in things,
the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so that Christmas is not only
experienced as an outward party, but as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring
peace, life and true joy to people.
We entrust our journey towards the Lord
to the maternal intercession of Mary, Virgin of Advent, so we may be ready to welcome,
into our hearts and life, Emmanuel, God-with-us.
I would now like to offer
a word of greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus
prayer. In today’s Gospel John the Baptist reminds us of the need for repentance
and purification as we prepare a way for the Lord and await in hope his coming in
glory. May God abundantly bless you and your loved ones!