Before praying the Angelus, the Pope gave his traditional short speech Photo: Vatican Media

What does it mean to bear witness to the light? Pope Francis explains

Allocution on the occasion of the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday, December 17, 2023, Third Sunday of Advent

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 12.17.2023).- Approximately 22,000 people gathered around St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City to accompany Pope Francis in the Marian prayer of the Angelus at noon this Sunday, December 17. Before praying the Angelus, the Pope gave his traditional short speech. about the gospel of the day. Below we offer the English translation of the Pope’s words.


Today, the Third Sunday of Advent, the Gospel speaks to us about John the Baptist’s mission (cf. Jn 1:6-8, 19-28), indicating that he is the prophet sent by God to “testify to the light” (v. 8). Let us reflect on this: to testify to the light.

Testimony. The Baptist is certainly an extraordinary man. The people flock to listen to him, attracted by his consistent and sincere way of being (cf. vv. 6-7). His testimony comes through his frank language, his honest behaviour, his austerity of life. All this makes him different from other famous and powerful people of that time, who, instead, invested a lot in appearances. People like him – upright, free and courageous – are luminous, fascinating figures: they motivate us to rise above mediocrity and to be in turn models of good living for others. In every age, the Lord sends men and women like this. Do we know how to recognize them? Do we try to learn from their witness, allowing ourselves to be challenged? Or rather, do we allow ourselves to be bedazzled by fashionable people? Then we get caught in artificial behaviour.

John instead is luminous insofar as he testifies to the light. But what is his light? He himself responds when he states clearly to the crowds who had flocked to hear him that he was not the light, that he was not the Messiah (cf. vv. 19-20). The light is Jesus, the Lamb of God, “God who saves”. Only He redeems, frees, heals and enlightens. This is why John is a “voice” who accompanies his brothers and sisters to the Word; he serves without seeking honours or the spotlight: he is a lamp, while the light is the living Christ (cf. vv. 26-27; Jn 5:35).


Place Saint-Pierre, lors de la prière de l'Angélus, dimanche 17 décembre 2023.


Brothers and sisters, the example of John the Baptist teaches us at least two things. First, that we cannot save ourselves alone: only in God do we find the light of life. And second, that each of us, through service, consistency, humility, witness of life – and always by God’s grace – can be a lamp that shines and helps others find the way on which to meet Jesus.

So, let us ask ourselves: In the places I live, how can I testify to the light, testify to Christ in the here and now this Christmas, not in the distant future?

May Mary, mirror of holiness, help us be men and women who reflect Jesus, the light who comes into the world.


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