VATICAN CITY, NOV. 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI’s address before praying the Angelus at midday with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
This Sunday we begin, by the grace of God, a new liturgical year, which opens naturally with Advent, a time of preparation for the Lord’s nativity. In the constitution on the Liturgy, the Second Vatican Council states that the Church “presents in the annual cycle the whole mystery of Christ, from the incarnation and the nativity, to the ascension, the day of pentecost, and the expectation of the blessed hope and return of the Lord.”
In this way, “recalling the mysteries of the redemption, it opens to the faithful the riches of the salvific actions and the merits of their Lord, so that they are present in some way in all times, so that the faithful can approach them and be filled with the grace of salvation” (“Sacrosantum Concilium,” 102).
The council insists on the fact that Christ is the center of the liturgy. It is similar to the sun, around which rotate the planets. Around the liturgy rotate the Blessed Virgin Mary — she is the closest — and the martyrs and the other saints that “in heaven sing to God the perfect praise and intercede for us” (Ibidem, 104).
This is the reality of the liturgical year seen, so to speak, “from God’s side.” And from the side — shall we say — of man, of history and of society? What importance can it have? The answer is suggested properly by the advent journey, which we undertake today.
The contemporary world needs above all hope: It is needed by developing peoples, but also by those economically developed. We increasingly see that we are in the same boat and that we must all be saved together. Above all, seeing so many false securities crumble, we realize that we need a trustworthy hope, and this is found only in Christ, who, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, “is the same yesterday, today and always” (13:8).
The Lord Jesus came in the past, he 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” and, sharing our human precariousness, remains forever and offers us God’s very stability. He is “flesh” like us, and is “rock” like God.
Whoever desires liberty, justice and peace may now lift himself up, and raise his head, because in Christ liberation is close (cf. Luke 21:28) — as we read in today’s Gospel. Hence, we can affirm that Jesus Christ does not only look at Christians, or only at believers, but at all men, because he, who is the center of faith, is also the foundation of hope. He is the hope that every human being constantly needs.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Virgin Mary fully incarnates the humanity that lives in hope based on faith in the living God. She is the Virgin of Advent; she is well-rooted in the present, in the “today” of salvation; she keeps in her heart all the past promises; and they extend to future fulfillment. Let us enter her school, to truly enter this time of grace and to welcome, with joy and responsibility, the coming of God to our personal and social history.
[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said:]
This coming Dec. 1 the World AIDS Day will be observed. My thought and my prayer go to all persons affected by this sickness, in particular children, to the poorest and to those who are rejected. The Church does not cease to combat AIDS, through her institutions and the personnel dedicated to it. I exhort everyone to make their own contribution with prayer and care, so that those who are affected by the HIV virus will feel the presence of the Lord who gives support and hope. Finally, I hope that, by multiplying and coordinating efforts, this sickness will be halted and eradicated.
[Translation by ZENIT] [The Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]
I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for the Angelus. On this First Sunday of Advent let us join with Mary in prayerful trust, watchful for the presence of Jesus in our world, mindful of our need to grow in compassion and mercy, and ready to embrace God’s will as a sign of hope. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s abundant blessings of joy and peace.
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