Season of Advent
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
Pope Francis’ address on 03 Dec 2017 before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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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.
Creation, including ourselves, is part of a master-plan of the Creator. But when man, created in innocence, finally appeared on the scene, he chose not to co-operate with the mysterious growth into the image of the Creator.
Since all have sinned (Rom 3:23), this “sin of the world” brought about man’s inability to realize the divinely-intended freedom into which he is to grow. Hence, Redemption by Jesus, Who took away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29), becanme necessary. Only in Christ has sinful man the power to become the heavenly man, as intended by God (1 Cor 15:45-49).
Advent is the time of more than usual eager longing, awaiting our revelation as sons of God (Rom 8:19). It is the waiting for Christ’s coming in grace on Christmas and for His final coming when God’s plan will be fully realized in all who have put on Christ by faith and Baptism (Gal 3:27).
God gives us this plan in the words of the Prophets, and the Church gives us their words in Advent. The great precursors were Isaiah and John the Baptist – and others like Baruch, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Micah. And then comes Jesus, the fulfillment of all the promises God has made.
From the day of the Annunciation onward, Mary, more than anyone else in the world, had the privilege of knowing that in all truth God is the One Who comes into the world. It is by meditating on the mystery of Christ, “the Son of the Most High,” that we begin to udnerstand that He linked our lot with His own by becoming Man and that He will return to inaugurate His eternal Kingdom by saving us.
During Advent, our constant prayer should be: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rv 22:20). We should “reject godless ways and wordly desires, and live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Tim 2:12-13).
THE WORD OF GOD
“In the beginning was the Word; the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God. He was present to God in the beginning.” (Jn 1:1-2)
“No one has ever seen God. It is God the Son, ever at the Father’s side, Who has revealed Him.” (Jn 1:18)
”The Son is the reflection of the Father’s glory, the exact representation of the Father’s being, and He sustains all things by His all-powerful word.” (Heb 1:3)
Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, I give You thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord. When he humbled Himself to come among us as a Man, He fulfilled the plan You formed long ago and opened for us the way to salvation.
Now I watch for the day, hoping that the salvation promised us will be mine, when Christ our Lord will come again in His glory.
His future coming was proclaimed by all the prophets. The Virgin Mother bore Him in her womb with love beyond all telling. John the Baptist was His herald and made Him known when at last He came. In His love He has filled us with joy as we prepare to celebrate His birth. When he comes, may He find me watching in prayer, my heart filled with wonder and praise.
In memory of the coming of our Lord and Saviour, I beg You, Father, to grant me all the graces I need to be prepared for His coming to my soul on Christmas. I ask in particular this favour: (Mention your request).
For the love Jesus, Your Son, has shown us in becoming man to save us, I beg You to grant my prayer, if it be Your holy will.
Prayer to Benefit from Christ’s Coming
Lord our God, help me to prepare well for the coming of Christ Your Son. May He find me waiting, eager in joyful prayer.
God of mercy and consolation, help me in my weakness and free me from sin. Hear my prayers that I may rejoice at the coming of Your Son.
You loved the world so much You gave your only Son to free us from the ancient power of sin and death. Help me who wait for His coming, and lead me to true liberty. Free me from my sins, and make me whole. Hear my prayer, and prepare me to celebrate the incarnation of Your Son.
Almighty God, help me to look forward to the glory of the birth of Christ our Saviour; His coming is proclaimed joyfully in all the world. I await His healing power. Let me not be discouraged by my weaknesses as I prepare for His coming. Keep me steadfast in Your love. Give me the joy of Your love to prepare the way for Him. Help me to serve You and my neighbour.
Father, help me to look forward in hope to the coming of our Saviour. May I live as He has taught, ready to welcome him with burning love and faith. Let Your glory dawn to take away my darkness, and may I be revealed as a child of light at His coming. Let the light of His coming free me from the darkness of sin and renew His life within me.
My sins bring me unhappiness. Hear my prayer for courage and strength. May the coming of Your Son bring me the joy of salvation. Guide me with Your love as I await His coming. Keep me faithful that I may be helped through life and brought to salvation.
Father, creator and redeemer of mankind, You decreed, and Your word became man, born of the Virgin Mary. May I come to share the Divinity of Christ, Who humbled Himself to share our human nature. Renew me by the coming feast of Your Son’s birth. Give me true faith and love to celebrate the mystery of God made man. May I who celebrate the birth of Your Son as man rejoice in the gift of eternal life when He comes in glory. May I share more fully in His Divine life, for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.
(Taken from: Treasury of Novenas)