On God's Gift of His Time

“A Gift That Man Can Appreciate or Squander”

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today, with the First Sunday of Advent, we begin a new liturgical year. This fact invites us to reflect on the dimension of time, which has always greatly fascinated us. Following the example of what Jesus liked to do, I would like to start from a very concrete experience: We all say “I don’t have time” because the rhythm of daily life has become too frenetic for everyone. The Church has “good news” to announce about this too: God gives us his time. We always have little time. Especially in regard to the Lord, we do not know how to find him, or, sometimes, we do not want to find him. And yet God has time for us!

This is the first thing that the beginning of a liturgical year makes us rediscover with an ever new wonder. Yes: God gives us his time, because he has entered into history, with his Word and his works of salvation, to open it to eternity, to make it into a covenant history. From this perspective time is already, in itself, a basic sign of God’s love. It is a gift that man can, like everything else, appreciate or, on the contrary, squander; he can grasp its meaning, or neglect it with obtuse superficiality.

There are three great “hinges” of time that span salvation history: At the beginning is creation, at the center the Incarnation-redemption and at the end the “parousia,” the final coming that also includes the universal judgment. These three moments, however, are not to be understood simply in chronological succession. In fact, while it is true that creation is at the beginning of everything, it also continues and is realized along the whole arc of cosmic becoming to the very end of time. So also with the Incarnation-redemption, if it occurred at a determinate historical moment — Jesus’ sojourn on the earth — nevertheless, its effect extends over the time that preceded it and all of the time that follows it. And the Final Coming and the Last Judgment, which precisely on Christ’s cross were decisively anticipated, exercise their influence on the conduct of men of every age.

The liturgical season of Advent celebrates God’s coming in its two moments: First it invites us to awaken the expectation of Christ’s glorious return; then, nearing Christmas, it calls us to welcome the Word made man for our salvation. But the Lord comes constantly into our lives. How opportune, then, is Jesus’ call, which is more powerfully proposed than ever this Sunday: “Be vigilant!” (Mark 13:33, 35, 37). It is addressed to the disciples, but also to “everyone,” because everyone, at the hour that God alone knows, will be called to give an account of his own life. This entails a proper detachment from worldly goods, a sincere repentance for one’s errors, an active charity toward one’s neighbor and above all a humble and confident placing of oneself into God’s hands, our tender and merciful Father.

The Virgin Mary is the icon of Advent. Let us call upon her to help us to become an extension of humanity for the Lord who comes.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father said in Italian:]

November 30 is the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, brother of Simon Peter. Both had been followers of John the Baptist and, after Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, they became his disciples, recognizing him as the Messiah. St. Andrew is the patron of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and so the Church of Rome feels linked to the Church of Constantinople by a special fraternal bond. For this reason, following the tradition, on this felicitous occasion a delegation from the Holy See, led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has embarked on a visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. With all my heart, I offer my greeting and my best wishes to him and to the faithful of the patriarchate, invoking the abundance of heavenly blessings upon all.

I would like to invite you to join in prayer for the numerous people killed, wounded or in any way harmed in the brutal terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, and the fighting that has broken out in Jos, Nigeria. The causes and the circumstances of these tragic events are different but the horror and the disapproval of the explosion of such cruel and senseless violence must be the same. Let us ask the Lord to touch the hearts of those who falsely believe that this is the way to resolve local or international problems and let us all feel encouraged to offer an example of meekness and love to build a society worthy of God and man.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [Then, the Pope greeted the crowds in several languages. In English, the Holy Father said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. I offer a special welcome to the participants in the Youth Meeting at the European University of Rome. Today, the First Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new liturgical year. The Gospel invites to be prepared as faithful servants for the coming of Christ. May Advent be a time of preparation that leads us to a life centred on our Christian hope. May God bless you all!

© Copyright 2008 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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