Pope Francis reminded the faithful on December 10, 2017, that Advent is the time of preparation. He addressed the crowds in St. Peter’s Square before the Angelus.
“Last Sunday we began Advent with the invitation to watch,” the Holy Father recalled. “Today, the second Sunday of this time of preparation for Christmas, the Liturgy points out the proper contents: it’s the time to recognize the voids to fill in our life, to smooth the asperities of pride and make room for Jesus who is coming.”
He noted that a void can develop in a person’s life because they don’t pray or pray too little. A void could also develop from a lack of kindness to one’s neighbor or failure to help those in need.
“We are called to be more conscious of the needs of others, closer to them,” Francis said. “Thus, like John the Baptist, we can open paths of hope in the desert of the arid hearts of so many people.”
The Holy Father’s Remarks Before the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Last Sunday we began Advent with the invitation to watch. Today, the second Sunday of this time of preparation for Christmas, the Liturgy points out the proper contents: it’s the time to recognize the voids to fill in our life, to smooth the asperities of pride and make room for Jesus who is coming.
The prophet Isaiah addresses the people announcing the end of the exile in Babylon and the return to Jerusalem. He prophesizes: “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord [. . .] Every valley shall be lifted up’” (40:3). The valleys to be lifted up represent all the voids of our behavior before God, all our sins of omission. A void in our life can be the fact that we don’t pray or pray little. Hence, Advent is the favorable moment to pray with more intensity, to give to the spiritual life the important place it deserves. Another void might be our lack of charity towards our neighbor, especially towards those most in need of help, not only material but also spiritual. We are called to be more conscious of the needs of others, closer to them. Thus, like John the Baptist, we can open paths of hope in the desert of the arid hearts of so many people.
“Every mountain and hill be made low” (v. 4), exhorts again Isaiah. The mountains and hills that must be made low are pride, haughtiness <and> arrogance. Where there is pride, where there is arrogance, where there is haughtiness the Lord can’t enter because that heart is full of pride, of haughtiness, of arrogance. Therefore, we must lower this pride. We must assume meek and humble attitudes, without rebuking, listening, talking meekly and thus preparing the coming of our Saviour, He who is meek and humble of heart (Cf. Matthew 11:29). Then we are asked to eliminate all the obstacles we put to our union with the Lord: “The uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed – says Isaiah — and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:4-5). However, these actions are to be done with joy, because they are geared to the preparation of Jesus’ arrival. When we expect at home the visit of a dear person, we prepare everything with care and happiness. We want to predispose ourselves in the same way for the coming of the Lord: to attend to Him every day with solicitude, to be filled with His grace when He comes.
The Saviour we await is able to transform our life with the strength of the Holy Spirit, with the strength of love. In fact, the Holy Spirit effuses in our hearts the love of God, inexhaustible source of purification, of new life and of freedom. The Virgin Mary lived this reality in fullness, allowing herself to be “baptized” by the Holy Spirit who inundated her with His power. May she, who prepared the coming of Christ with the totality of her existence, help us to follow her example and guide our steps to encounter the Lord who is coming.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican[Original Text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]