Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Dear brothers and sisters,
This Sunday marks the second stage of the Time of Advent, a wonderful time that awakens in us the expectation of the return of Christ and the memory of his historic coming. Today’s liturgy presents us with a message full of hope. It is the Lord’s invitation expressed by the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” (40,1). With these words, the Book of consolation is opened, in which the prophet addresses to the people in exile the joyful announcement of liberation. The time of tribulation is ended; the people of Israel can look towards the future with confidence: the return home finally awaits them. And this is the reason for the invitation to let ourselves be consoled by the Lord.
Isaiah addresses the people who have passed through a dark time, that have undergone a very hard trial; but now the time of consolation has come. Sadness and fear can make way for joy, because the Lord Himself will guide his people on the path of freedom and salvation.
In what way will He do this? With the care and tenderness of a shepherd who takes care of His flock. He will give unity and security to the flock, they will graze, the scattered sheep will be gathered safely, He will pay special attention to the most fragile and weak (v.11). This is God’s attitude towards us, His creatures. Hence, the prophet invites the listener – which includes us, today – to spread among the people this message of hope. The message that the Lord consoles us, to make way for the consolation that comes from the Lord.
But we cannot be messengers of God’s consolation if we do not experience first the joy of being consoled and loved by Him. This happens especially when we listen to His Word. The Gospel, which we should carry in our pocket, do not forget this! The Gospel, in your pocket or in your purse, read it continuously. This consoles us!
When we remain in prayerful silence in His presence, when we meet Him in the Eucharist or in the sacrament of Reconciliation. All this consoles us!
So now, let us allow Isaiah’s invitation – “Comfort, give comfort to my people” – resound in our hearts in this time of Advent. Today there is a need for people who are witnesses of the mercy and tenderness of the Lord, which shakes up those who are resigned, revives the discouraged, ignites the fire of hope. It is He who ignites the fire of hope, not us!
So many situations require our consoling witness. To be joyful people, consoled. I think of those who are oppressed by suffering, injustice and abuses; those who are enslaved by money, power, success, worldliness. Poor things, they have a false consolation, they do not have the true consolation of the Lord!
We are all called to console our brothers and sisters, giving witness that only God can eliminate the causes of existential and spiritual tragedies. He can do it, He is powerful!
Isaiah’s message, that resonates in this second Sunday of Advent, is a balm on our wounds and an impetus to prepare the way of the Lord diligently. The prophet, in fact, speaks today to our hearts to tell us that God forgets our sins and consoles us. If we trust in Him with humble and contrite hearts, He will break down the walls of evil, He will fill the holes of our omissions, He will pave the bumps of pride and vanity and will open a path of encounter with Him.
It is curious, but so many times, we are afraid of consolation, of being consoled. In fact, we feel safer in sadness and desolation. Do you know why? Because in sadness, we feel almost like the protagonists. Instead, in consolation, the Holy Spirit is the protagonist! It is He who consoles us, it is He who gives us the courage to come out of ourselves. It is He who brings us to the source of every true consolation, that is, the Father. And this is conversion, Please, let yourselves be consoled by the Lord! Let yourselves be consoled by the Lord!
The Virgin Mary is the “path” that God Himself has prepared to come into the world. Let us entrust to Her the expectation of salvation and peace for all men and women of our time.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet you all, the faithful of Rome and pilgrims who have come from Italy and different countries: families, parish groups, associations. In particular, I greet the Identes missionaries, who are so good, they do so much good. The faithful of Bianzè, Dalmine, Sassuolo, Arpaìse e Oliveri; the community of Rumeni di Cordenons – Pordenone; the “Porta Aperta” association of Modena, the families of Fratta Polesine, and the youth from Petosino.
To all I wish a good Sunday, Please,let yourselves be consoled by the Lord! Understood? Let yourselves be consoled by the Lord! Do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye. And tomorrow have a good day of the Immaculate [Conception].[Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]