Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave before and after praying the midday Angelus today.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning.
Today in the Church we begin a new liturgical year, that is, a new journey of faith for the people of God. And as always, we begin with Advent.
The passage of the Gospel [for today] introduces us to one of the most representative themes of the time of Advent: the Lord’s visit to humanity. The first visit was made with the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus in the stable of Bethlehem. The second visit is in the present: the Lord visits us continually every day, he journeys at our side and is a consoling presence. And at the end will be the last visit, which we profess each time we recite the Creed, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” The Lord today speaks to us of this last of his visits, the one that will happen at the end of time, and he tells us where our journey will end.
The Word of God highlights the contrast between the normal development of things and daily routines, and the sudden arrival of the Lord. Jesus says, “In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away” (vs 38-39).
It always makes an impact on us when we think of the hours that precede a great calamity: everyone is calm, doing their normal normal things, without realizing that their lives are about to be changed.
The Gospel doesn’t want to make us afraid, but rather to open our horizons to the final, greater dimension, which relativizes everyday things and at the same time, makes them valuable and decisive. A relationship with the God who comes to visit us gives a distinct light, a weight, a symbolic value, to everything.
From this perspective also comes an invitation to sobriety, to not be dominated by the things of this world, by material realities, but instead to govern them.
If on the contrary we allow ourselves to be conditioned and dominated by those things, we cannot perceive that there is something much more important: our final encounter with the Lord who comes for us. In that moment, as the Gospel says, “Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left” (v. 40). It is an invitation to vigilance, because as we don’t know when He will come, we must be always ready to depart.
In this time of Advent, we are called to widen the horizons of our heart, to allow ourselves to be surprised by life, which presents us each day with its novelties. To do this, we must learn to not depend on our securities, on our closed way of thinking, because the Lord comes at an hour that we are not expecting. He comes to introduce us into a dimension that is greater and more beautiful.
Our Lady, the Virgin of Advent, helps us to not consider ourselves the owners of our lives, to not resist when the Lord comes to change our lives, but to be ready to allow ourselves to be visited by Him, this delightful and awaited guest, even though He will dismantle our plans.[Angelus]
Dear brothers and sisters,
I want to assure my prayers for the peoples of Central America, especially those of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, hit by a hurricane, and in the case of Nicaragua, also a strong earthquake. I’m praying as well for those of the north of Italy, who are suffering because of floods.
I greet the pilgrims here who have come from Italy and various countries: the families, the parish groups, the associations. I particularly greet the faithful who’ve come from Egypt, Slovakia and the choir of Limburg, Germany.
I greet with the affection the Ecuadorian community of Rome, and the families of the Tra Noi Movement, the groups from Altamura, Rieti, San Casciano in Val di Pesa, the UNITALSI of Capaccio and the students of Bagheria.
I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good beginning to Advent. May it be a time of hope! The true hope founded on fidelity to God and on our own responsibility. And please don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and see you soon![Translation by ZENIT]