Be heedful and vigilant, Pope Francis urged on December 3, 2017, to the crowds gathered for the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Being heedful, he explained, means avoiding distraction or superficiality. Instead, it means “first of all living for others.”
“The vigilant person is the one that receives the invitation to watch, namely, not to let himself be overcome by the sleep of discouragement, of lack of hope, of disappointment and, at the same time, rejects the solicitation of the many vanities that overflow in the world and behind which, sometimes, personal and family time and serenity are sacrificed,” the Holy Father stressed.
Being heedful and vigilant allows God to “break into our lives,” the Pope concluded. The in our lives God can “restore meaning and value to it with His presence full of goodness and tenderness.”
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The Holy Father’s Remarks Before the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today we begin the journey of Advent, which will culminate in Christmas. Advent is the time that is given to us to welcome the Lord who comes to meet us, to verify our desire for God, to look ahead and prepare ourselves for Christ’s return. He will return to us on the feast of Christmas, when we will remember His historical coming in the humility of the human condition; however, He comes within us every time we are disposed to receive Him, and He will come again at the end of time to “judge the living and the dead.” Therefore, we must always be vigilant and wait for the Lord with the hope of meeting Him. Today’s liturgy introduces us, in fact, in this thought-provoking theme of vigilance and expectation.
Jesus exhorts us in the Gospel (Cf. Mark 13:33-37) to take heed and watch, to be ready to receive Him the moment of his return. He says to us: “Take heed, watch and pray, for you do not know when the time will come […] lest He come suddenly and find you asleep” (vv. 33-36).
The person that takes heed is one that, in the noise of the world, doesn’t let himself be overwhelmed by distraction or by superficiality, but lives in a full and aware way, with concern first of all for others. With this attitude, we are aware of the tears and the needs of our neighbor and we can also grasp his human and spiritual capacities and qualities. The person that heeds then turns also to the world, trying to counter the indifference and cruelty in it, and rejoicing over the treasures of beauty that also exist and are guarded.
It’s about having a look of understanding either to recognize the miseries and poverties of individuals and societies or to recognize the richness hidden in little everyday things, precisely there, where the Lord has placed us.
The vigilant person is the one that receives the invitation to watch, namely, not to let himself be overcome by the sleep of discouragement, of lack of hope, of disappointment and, at the same time, rejects the solicitation of the many vanities that overflow in the world and behind which, sometimes, personal and family time and serenity are sacrificed. It is the painful experience of the people of Israel, recounts the prophet Isaiah: God seemed to have left His people wander far from His ways (Cf. 63:17), but this was an effect of the infidelity of the people themselves (Cf. 64:4b). We also often find ourselves in this situation of infidelity to the Lord’s call: He indicates to us the good way, the way of faith, the way of love, but we look for our happiness elsewhere.
To be heedful and vigilant are the assumptions not to continue “wandering far from the Lord’s ways,” lost in our sins and in our infidelities. To be heedful and to be vigilant are the conditions to enable God to break into our existence, to restore meaning and value to it with His presence full of goodness and tenderness. May Mary Most Holy, model in waiting for God and icon of vigilance, guide us to encounter her Son Jesus, reviving our love for Him.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican[Original text: Italian [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]