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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

Today, the first  Sunday of Advent, we begin a new liturgical year, that is, a new journey of the People of God with Jesus, our Shepherd, who guides us through history toward the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. Thus, this day has a special appeal. Through it we experience a profound sense of the meaning of history. We rediscover the beauty of all being on a journey: the Church, with her vocation and mission, and the whole of humanity, nations, civilizations, cultures, all on a journey along the paths of time.

But where is this journey headed? Is there a common goal? And what is this goal? The Lord answers us through the prophet Isaiah and says: “At the end of days the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills.  All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: ‘Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths’” (Isaiah 2:2-3). This is what Isaiah says about where we are going. It is a universal pilgrimage toward a common goal, which in the Old Testament is Jerusalem, where the Lord’s temple stands, because from there, from Jerusalem, comes the revelation of the face of God and his law. Revelation found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and he himself is the “Lord’s temple,” the Word made flesh: he is both the leader and the goal of our pilgrimage, of the pilgrimage of the whole People of God; and in its light other peoples too can journey toward the Kingdom of justice, toward the Kingdom of peace. The prophet says further: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again” (2:4). Let me repeat what the prophet says. Listen well: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” But when will this happen? What a beautiful day it will be when weapons are destroyed to be transformed into tools for work! What a beautiful day that will be! And this is possible! Let us bet on hope, on the hope of peace, and it will be possible!

This journey is never finished. Just as in the life of each one of us there is always a need to start again, to get back up, to rediscover the meaning of our existence, so for the great human family it is necessary always to redirect ourselves toward the common horizon that is the goal of our journey. It is the horizon of hope! This is the horizon of a good journey. The season of Advent that today we begin once again, restores the horizon of hope for us, a hope that does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God. It is a hope that does not disappoint simply because the Lord never disappoints! He is faithful! He does not disappoint! Let us think about and fell this beauty.

The model of this spiritual attitude, of this way of being and of this journey of life, is the Virgin Mary. A simple village girl, who carries all the hope of God in her heart! In her womb the hope of God took flesh, became man, became history: Jesus Christ. Her Magnificat is the song of the People of God on its journey, and of all men and women who hope in God, in the power of his mercy. Let us be guided by her, who is a mother, a mamma, and knows how to guide us. Let us be guided by her during this time of waiting and active vigilance.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those gathered in St. Peter’s Square:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today is the World Day for the fight against HIV/AIDS. Let us express our nearness to persons who are affected, especially children; a nearness that is very concrete for the silent work of many missionaries and workers. Let us pray for everyone, for doctors and for researchers. May every sick person, without exception, find the cure that he needs.

I greet with affection all the pilgrims who are gathered here: families, parishes, associations. I especially greet the faithful from Madrid, the Florilège Choir from Belgium, the Family Together group of Solofra and the Artistic Work Association of Rome.

I greet the faithful from Bari, Sant’Elpidio a Mare, Pollenza and Grumo Nevano.

I wish everyone a good beginning of Advent. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]