Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Present on this Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) were children of the Roman Oratories Center, and of the parishes and families of Rome, for the blessing of the little Christ Child figures.
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Before the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In this third Sunday of Advent the liturgy invites us to joy — listen carefully: to joy. The prophet Zephaniah turns to the small portion of the people of Israel with these words: “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout; O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!” (3:14). Shout with joy, exult, rejoice: this is this Sunday’s invitation. The inhabitants of the Holy City are called to rejoice because the Lord has taken away their condemnation (Cf. v. 15). God had forgiven, He did not want to punish! Consequently, there is no longer a reason for the people’s sadness and distress, but everything leads to joyful gratitude to God, who always wants to rescue and save those He loves. And the Lord’s love for His people is incessant, like the tenderness of a father for his children, of a husband for his wife, as Zephaniah says again: “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will renew you in His love; He will exult over you with loud singing” (v. 17). This is — it is called so – the Sunday of joy: the Third Sunday of Advent, before Christmas.
This appeal of the prophet is particularly appropriate in the time in which we prepare for Christmas, because it’s applied to Jesus, the Emmanuel, the God-with-us: His presence is the source of joy. In fact, Zephaniah proclaims:” King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst”; and shortly after he repeats: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory” (vv. 15.17). This message finds its full meaning in the moment of the Annunciation to Mary, recounted by the evangelist Luke. The words addressed to the Virgin by the Angel Gabriel are as an echo of those of the prophet. What does the Archangel Gabriel say? “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). “Rejoice,” he says to Our Lady. In a remote village of Galilee, in the heart of a young woman unknown to the world, God ignites the spark of happiness for the whole world. And today, the same announcement is addressed to the Church, called to receive the Gospel to become flesh, concrete life. It says to the Church, to all of us: “Rejoice small Christian community, poor and humble but beautiful in my eyes because you desire ardently my Kingdom, you are hungry and thirsty for justice, weave with patience threads of peace, do not chase the powers that be, but remain faithfully next to the poor. And so, you are not afraid of anything but your heart is in joy.” If we live thus, in the Lord’s presence, our heart will always be in joy — when there is “high-level, full joy, and the humble joy of every day, namely, peace. Peace is the littlest joy, but it’s joy.
Saint Paul also exhorts us today not to be anxious, not to despair about anything, but in every circumstance, to let our requests, our needs and>our worries made known to God “by prayer and supplication” (Philippians 4:6). The awareness that we can always turn to the Lord in our difficulties, and that He never rejects our invocations, is a great reason for joy. No worry, no fear will ever be able to take away from us the serenity that comes, not from human things, from human consolations, no, but the serenity that comes from God, knowing that God guides our life lovingly, and He does so always. Also, in the midst of problems and sufferings, this certainty nourishes hope and courage.
However, to receive the Lord’s invitation to joy, we must be persons willing to question ourselves. What does this mean? Exactly as those that, after having heard John the Baptist’s preaching, asked him: you preach thus and we, “what must we do?” (Luke 3:10). What must I do? This question is the firs step for the conversion we are invited to undergo in this Season of Advent. Let each one of us ask himself: what must I do? A small thing but “what must I do?” And may the Virgin Mary, who is our Mother, help us to open our heart to the God-who-comes, so that He inundates our whole life with joy.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
After the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Approved last week at Marrakech in Morocco was the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which is to be a frame of reference for the whole International Community. Therefore, I hope that, thanks also to this instrument, it will be ale to operate with responsibility, solidarity and compassion in dealing with those that, for different reasons, have left their own countries, and I entrust this intention to your prayers.
I greet you all, families, parish groups and Associations, who have come from Rome, from Italy and from so many parts of the world. In particular I greet the pilgrims of Siviglia, Hamburg, Monaco of Bavaria and Chapelle in Belgium. I greet the faithful of Pescara, Potenza, Bucchianico, Fabriano and Blera; the Comboni lay missionaries <and> the Scouts of Jesolo and Ca’Savio.
And now I address you especially, dear children of Rome, who have come for the blessing of the “Bambinelli,” [little Christ Child figures] accompanied by the Auxiliary Bishop, Monsignor Ruzza. I thank the Roman Oratories Center and the volunteers. Dear children, when you recollect yourselves in prayer at home before the Crib, fixing your gaze on the Child Jesus, you will feel the astonishment . . . You will ask me, what does “astonishment” mean? It’s a stronger feeling; it’s more than a common emotion. It’s to see God: astonishment because of the great mystery of God made man; and the Holy Spirit will put the humility, tenderness and goodness of Jesus in your heart. Jesus is good; Jesus is tender; Jesus is humble. This is true Christmas! Don’t forget it. May it be so for you and your families. I bless all the “Bambinelli.”
I wish you all a happy Sunday and a good Third Week of Advent — with joy, much joy and much peace when joy isn’t possible. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]