Pope Francis on December 9, 2018, called on the faithful to make Advent not only a time of waiting but of conversion. And he pointed to John the Baptist as the guide in the journey.
His comments came before praying the noonday Angelus with a crowd estimated t 45,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.
“Last Sunday the liturgy invited us to live the Season of Advent and of waiting for the Lord with an attitude of vigilance and also of prayer: ‘watch’ and ‘pray,‘ the Holy Father recalled. “Today, second Sunday of Advent, it is pointed out to us how to give substance to such waiting: undertaking a journey of conversion, how to render this waiting concrete.”
Today’s Gospel, from the third chapter of Luke, introduces John the Baptist, who travels the Jordan region proclaiming a gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins. And the Gospel recalls the words of the Prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
The Pope stressed that repentance has demands. The first is the repairing of the “depressions” in our lives caused by “coldness and indifference.” He said we must open ourselves to others the way Jesus did.
“One cannot have a relationship of love, of charity, of fraternity with one’s neighbor if there are ‘holes,’ as one cannot go on a road with so many holes,” the Pope said. “This calls for a change of attitude.”
The Pope listed ways to achieve this change of attitude:
- A special solicitude for the neediest.
- Lower the many rough spots caused by pride and arrogance.
- Carrying out concrete gestures of reconciliation with our brothers, of a request for forgiveness for our faults.
- Acknowledge humbly our mistakes, our infidelities, and defaults.
“The believer is he who, through making himself close to a brother, as John the Baptist, opens paths in the desert, namely, points out prospects of hope even in those impervious existential contexts, marked by failure and defeat,” Francis stressed. “We cannot give up in face of negative situations of closure and rejection; we must not let ourselves be subjected by the mentality of the world, because Jesus and His word of light, of love and of consolation is at the center of our life.”