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Angelus Address: On the Gospel of the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Focused on Joseph, ‘In Whose Attitude the Whole of Christian Wisdom Is Enclosed’

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square. On this fourth Sunday of Advent, the Holy Father focused on Joseph, who he points out accepted difficult situations by totally trusting in God.

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Before the Angelus:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In this fourth and last Sunday of Advent, the Gospel (Cf. Matthew 1:18-24) leads us to Christmas through the experience of Joseph, a seemingly second plane figure, but in whose attitude the whole of Christian wisdom is enclosed. He, together with John the Baptist and Mary, is one of the personalities that the Liturgy proposes to us for the Season of Advent and, of the three, he is the most modest. He doesn’t preach, he doesn’t speak but seeks to do the Will of God. And he does so in the style of the Gospel and of the Beatitudes. We think: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3). And Joseph is poor because he lives of the essential, he works, he lives off work. It is the poverty typical of those that are aware of depending in everything on God and in Him they put all their trust.

Today’s evangelical account presents a humanly embarrassing and contrasting situation. Joseph and Mary are betrothed. They still don’t live together, but She is expecting a child by the work of God. In face of this surprise, Joseph is naturally disturbed but, instead of reacting in an impulsive and punitive way — as was the custom, the law protected him –, he looks for a solution that respects the dignity and integrity of his beloved Mary. The Gospel says thus: “Her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put Her to shame, resolved to send Her away quietly” (v. 19). In fact, Joseph knew well that if he had denounced his betrothed, he would have exposed Her to grave consequences, in fact, to death. He fully trusts Mary, whom he had chosen as his spouse. He doesn’t understand but he looks for another solution.

This inexplicable circumstance induces him to question their bond. Therefore, with great suffering, he decides to detach himself from Mary without creating a scandal. However, the Angel of the Lord intervenes to say to him that the solution he proposed is not that willed by God. Rather, the Lord opens for him a new path, a path of union, of love and of happiness and He says to him: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in Her is of the Holy Spirit” (v. 20).

At this point, Joseph trusts God totally; he obeys the Angel’s words and takes Mary with him. In fact, this unwavering trust in God enabled him to accept a humanly difficult and, in a certain sense, incomprehensible situation.

Joseph understands in faith that the child generated in Mary’s womb is not his son but is the Son of God and he, Joseph, will be his guardian, assuming fully his earthly paternity. The example of this meek and wise man exhorts us to raise our gaze and look beyond. It’s about recovering God’s surprising logic that, far from small or great calculations, is made of openness to new horizons, to Christ and his Word.

May the Virgin Mary and her chaste husband Joseph help us to listen to Jesus who is coming, and who asks to be welcomed in our projects and in our choices.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia m. Forrester]


After the Angelus:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I greet you all, faithful of Rome and pilgrims from Italy and from various countries.

In particular, I greet the delegation of Italian citizens that live in gravely polluted areas, and that aspire to a better quality of the environment and just health protection.

In three days it will be Christmas, and my thought goes especially to families, to your families, that in these days of celebration are reunited. One who lives far from parents leaves and goes home; brothers seek to get together. May Holy Christmas be for all an occasion of brotherhood, of growth in faith and of gestures of solidarity toward all those that are in need. And may Saint Joseph accompany us in this path to Christmas.

I wish you a happy Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
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Virginia Forrester

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