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Pope Francis at the Angelus, seen through the branches of the Christmas tree in St Peter's Square Pope Francis at the Angelus, seen through the branches of the Christmas tree in St Peter's Square  (Vatican Media)

Pope at Angelus: Opening our hearts to welcome Jesus

Wakefulness and prayer are two key attitudes that will help us have a good Advent, says Pope Francis during the Sunday Angelus.

By Christopher Wells

In his reflection at the Angelus on the First Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that Advent is not just a time of preparation for Christmas: we are also looking forward to the return of Christ at the end of time, as well as our own, personal encounter with Jesus at the end of our lives. In these four weeks of Advent, he said, “called to leave a resigned and routine way of living, and to go forth, nurturing hopes and dreams for a new future.”

Wakefulness

The Holy Father highlighted two key attitudes that will help us have a good Advent: wakefulness, and prayer. Advent, he said, calls us to “stay awake,” to be vigilant, “looking outside ourselves, enlarging our minds and our hearts to be open to the needs of the people, of our brothers and sisters, and to the desire for a new world.”

Prayer

Closely tied to vigilance is the idea of prayer. “It’s a matter of standing up and praying, turning our thoughts and our hearts to Jesus who is about to come,” the Pope explained. “We stand up when we’re expecting someone.” He warned that if we see Christmas only through the lens of consumerism, as a “worldly celebration,” then “Jesus will pass us by, and we will not find Him.” Let us await Jesus, Pope Francis said, "and let us desire to await Him in prayer.”

It is Jesus who comes

In the Old Testament reading for Sunday, Jeremiah speaks harshly to his people, who are at risk of losing their identity. “We Christians, too,” the Pope said, “risk becoming worldly and losing our identity, indeed, of 'paganizing' the Christian style.” And so, he concluded, we stand in need of the Word of God, which proclaims “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfil the promise I made… I will raise up for David a just shoot; He shall do what is right and just in the land” And that just shoot, the Pope said, “is Jesus, it is Jesus who comes whom we await.”

02 December 2018, 14:40