Pope Francis says the joy that Jesus gives is one that we can experience and feel already today, not just when we get to Heaven.
The Pope said this today, on this Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete or "rejoice" Sunday, a title taken from the first words of the prayers of the day’s Mass.
He also followed the tradition of giving a blessing and special greeting to the many children who came to St. Peter's with Baby Jesus figurines from their nativity scenes. Italian children on Gaudete Sunday bring their figurines to the Angelus for this Bambinelli Sunday blessing.
As well, as a gift from the Holy Father, 50,000 prayerbooks, produced by the Office of Papal Charities and published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana (the Vatican publishing house), were distributed to those gathered in the Square.
The Pope said that this Third Sunday of Advent invites us to an interior attitude of joy as a way of preparing for the Lord.
Referring to a phrase spelled out by a large sign in the crowd, he spoke of joy with Jesus as being "part of the home." At various times during his address both before and after the Angelus, the Pope invited the people to repeat the phrase.
"The heart of man desires joy. All of us aspire to joy. Every family, every people aspires to happiness," he explained. "But what is the joy to which the Christian is called to live and to give witness? It is that that comes from the closeness of God, of his presence in our lives. [...] We don't need to look elsewhere. Jesus came to bring joy to everyone and for ever."
He affirmed that this joy is not just something for the future, for heaven. "No. It's not that. Rather, [it is] a joy that is already real and that can be felt now, because Jesus himself is our joy, is our home."
Pope Francis said that helping others to discover or rediscover this joy of Jesus is a mission like that of St. John the Baptist, given to all the baptized: "a beautiful mission [...] to point people toward Christ -- not to ourselves -- because He is the final goal toward which the human heart reaches when it seeks joy and happiness."
"The Christian is a person who has his heart full of peace, because he knows how to place his joy in the Lord, even when the difficult moments of life arise. To have faith does not mean to not have difficult moments, but to have the strength to face them, knowing we are not alone. And this is the Peace that God gives to his children," the Pope said. "With eyes set on Christmas, which is approaching, the Church invites us to give witness that Jesus is not a figure from the past. He is the word of God who today continues illuminating the path of man. His actions, the sacraments, are the manifestations of the tenderness, of the consolation, of the love of the Father for each human being."
In greeting the children with their Baby Jesus figurines, the Pope asked them to remember him in their prayers before their home nativity sets.
"Prayer is the breath of the soul," he said. "It is important to find moments during the day to open the heart to God, also with simple and brief prayers of the Christian people."
With this, the Pope explained that he planned to give those in the Square the gift of a pocket-sized prayerbook and he asked them to "carry it with you always, as a tool to help you live the day with God."
On ZENIT's Web page:
Full translation of address: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/angelus-address-on-the-joy-we-have-in-jesus