Here is a ZENIT working translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Before the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today, first Sunday of the Season of Advent, a new Liturgical Year begins. In these four weeks of Advent, the liturgy leads us to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, while it reminds us that He comes every day in our life, and will return gloriously at the end of time. This certainty induces us to look with confidence at the future, as the prophet Isaiah invites us to do, who with his inspired voice accompanies the whole Advent journey. In today’s First Reading, Isaiah prophesizes that “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it” (2:2). The Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem is presented as the point of convergence and of encounter of all peoples. After the Incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Himself revealed Himself as the true Temple. Therefore, Isaiah’s wonderful vision is a divine promise and drives us to assume an attitude of pilgrimage, of walking towards Christ. All those that hunger and thirst for justice, can only find it by following the Lord’s ways; whereas evil and sin come from the fact that individuals and social groups prefer to follow ways dictated by egoistical interests, which cause conflicts and wars. Instead, if each one sought, with the Lord’s guidance, the way of the good, then there would be more harmony and concord in the world. Advent is the propitious time to welcome the coming of Jesus, who comes as Messenger of peace to point out to us, God’s ways.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts us to be ready for His coming: “Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42). To watch doesn’t mean to have, materially, open eyes, but to have a free heart turned in the right direction, namely, willing to give and to serve. This is to watch! The sleep from which we must awake is constituted by indifference, by vanity, by the inability to establish genuinely human relationships, by taking charge of the brother who is alone, abandoned or sick. The awaiting of Jesus who comes, therefore, must be translated into a commitment of vigilance. It is, first of all, to marvel in face of God’s action, of His surprises, and to give Him the primacy. Vigilance also means, concretely, to be attentive to our neighbour in difficulty, to let ourselves be interpellated by his needs, without waiting for him or her to ask us for help, but to learn to forestall, to anticipate, as God always does with us.
May Mary, vigilant Virgin and Mother of Hope, guide us in this path, helping us to turn our gaze to the “mountain of the Lord,” image of Jesus Christ, who draws all men and all peoples to Himself.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
After the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
I follow with concern the situation in Iraq. I learned with grief that the manifestations of protest of past days have received a harsh reaction, which has caused dozens of victims. I pray for the deceased and for the wounded; I am close to their families and to the entire Iraqi people, invoking peace and concord from God.
The Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life has instituted a new International Youth Advisory Organism, made up of twenty young people of diverse geographic and ecclesial provenances. It is a concrete response to the request of last year’s Synod dedicated to young people (Cf. Final Document, 123). This organism’s task is to help to understand young people’s view on the priorities of youth pastoral ministry and on other topics of more general interest. Let us pray for this.
I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims of various countries! In particular, the faithful from Poland and the children’s choir of Bucharest.
I greet the groups of Giulianova Lido, Nettuno and Jesi, as well as the pilgrims of Cavarzere with the “Seraphim” choir,” and the Romanians’ Association in Italy.
This afternoon I will go to Greccio, the place where Saint Francis made the first Manger. I will sign an Apostolic Letter there, on the meaning and value of the Manger. The Manger is a simple and wonderful sign of the Christian faith. It’s a brief Letter, which might do good to prepare for Christmas. Accompany me with prayer on this journey.
I wish you all a happy Sunday and a good Advent journey. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]