On the third Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis invites the faithful not to be distracted by external things, but to make room for Jesus who wants “to give us his joy”.
Before the recitation of the Marian Prayer, Pope Francis said the liturgy on this third Sunday of Advent invites us to be joyful, but to be aware “that existence also includes moments of doubt”. “Joy and doubt are both experiences that are part of our lives”.
Taking his cue from the readings of the day, the Pope noted that just like the Prophet Isaiah, men and women are called to look beyond doubts and discouragements because God’s salvation “envelops the whole person and regenerates him.”
Pope Francis went on to say that we are called to conversion, which is the basis of the preaching of both St. John the Baptist and Jesus. “Just like John, emphasised the Pontiff, we too are called to recognise the face that God has chosen to assume in Jesus Christ, humble and merciful”.
The season of Advent, said the Pope, “is a time of grace, which tells us that it is not enough to believe in God: it is necessary to purify our faith every day. He continued, “it is a matter of preparing ourselves to welcome not a fairy-tale character, but the God who challenges us, involves us and before whom a choice is imposed.
Quoting from his recent Apostolic Letter on the Nativity Scene, Pope Francis said, “the Child who lies in the manger has the face of our brothers and sisters most in need, of the poor who ‘are the privileged ones of this mystery and, often, those who are most able to recognise the presence of God in our midst’”.
“As we approach Christmas”, exhorted the Pope, “may the Virgin Mary help us so that, we do not allow ourselves to be distracted by external things, but make room in our hearts for the One who has already come and wants to come again to heal our illnesses and to give us his joy.
Pope Francis blesses baby Jesus statues during Angelus
During the Angelus on the third Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis blessed the “Bambinelli” or baby Jesus statues saying, “the Nativity Scene is like a living Gospel.”
It was during the Angelus fifty years ago that St. Paul VI first blessed the statues of the Child Jesus brought by children to St. Peter’s Square. That tradition has continued ever since on the Third Sunday of Advent, and is fondly known as “Bambinelli Sunday.”
Speaking from the window of his studio in the Apostolic Palace, the Pope greeted the children present in St Peter’s Square, telling them he blessed the statues of the Child Jesus for their Christmas Scenes “with all my heart.”
Recalling his recent Apostolic Letter on the meaning and importance of the Nativity Scene, he said, “the crib is like a living Gospel. Contemplating the Christmas story is like setting out on a spiritual journey, drawn by the humility of the God who became man in order to encounter every man and woman.”
“So great is His love for us”, quoted the Pontiff, “that He became one of us, so that we in turn might become one with Him.”
Pope: God’s birth a revolution of love and tenderness
Pope Francis on Friday 13 December met organisers and artistes of the Vatican’s annual Christmas concert that is scheduled for Saturday, December 14.
By being born in a humble manger, God launched the only true revolution of love and tenderness that gives hope and dignity to the disinherited and the outcast.
Pope Francis made the point to the organisers and artistes of the 27th annual Christmas charity concert of the Vatican, promoted by the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education and supported by the Don Bosco Valdocco Missions of the Salesians and the Pontifical Foundation Scholas Occurrentes.
The Pope explained that Christmas is a time of expectation when we ask ourselves about our hearts’ desire. Through this inner thirst, he said, God Himself comes to meet us on the road where there is hunger and thirst for peace, justice, freedom and love.
“You too, with your songs, help awaken or reawaken this healthy human “yearning” in the hearts of many people,” the Pope told the concert artistes.
“The nativity scene clearly teaches that we cannot let ourselves be fooled by wealth and fleeting promises of happiness…” the Pope said citing from his recent Apostolic Letter “Admirabile Signum”, on the meaning and importance of the Nativity scene.
“By being born in a manger, God himself launches the only true revolution that can give hope and dignity to the disinherited and the outcast: the revolution of love, the revolution of tenderness,” the Pope said.
“From the manger, Jesus proclaims, in a meek yet powerful way, the need for sharing with the poor as the path to a more human and fraternal world in which no one is excluded or marginalised.”
By taking us aback with His humble birth, the Pope explained, God constantly invites us not to grow proud but to grasp His disarming power in every little gesture of goodwill.
Pope: ‘never look at your brothers and sisters in need with condescension’
Pope Francis receives groups of French pilgrims dedicated to the Devotion of Divine Mercy saying there is no human poverty that God does not want to reach, touch and help.
Addressing a group of French pilgrims associated to the devotion of Divine Mercy, Pope Francis on Friday thanked them for their witness to the world of the joy of mercy.
The Pope praised what he called their “beautiful diversity” that highlights the fact that “there is no human poverty that God does not want to reach, touch and help.”
The groups are in Rome on a pilgrimage taking them to different shrines dedicated to Divine Mercy, and the Pope expressed his appreciation for the fact that there are many in the Church in France who, with the support and encouragement of their pastors, proclaim the mercy of the Lord.
“Mercy is, in fact, the ultimate and supreme act with which God comes to meet us and which opens our hearts to the hope of being loved forever, whatever our poverty, whatever our sin,” he said.
The Pope said that God’s love for us is not an abstract word, it is visible and tangible in Jesus Christ.
“It is absolutely essential for the Church and for the credibility of her message that she herself live and testify to mercy. Her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father,” he quoted.
Urging those present to continue to find ways to meet each other to pray and share, to share their difficulties and experiences, as well as their joys and thanksgiving, the Pope invited those present to keep this mercy of which they bear witness alive.
“May the sometimes very demanding and tiring fulfilment of your charitable activities never stifle the breath of tenderness and compassion with which they must be animated,” he said.
He reminded them never to look at a brother or sister with condescension, but with understanding, appreciation, respect and love, because he said, “one can only be authentic apostles of mercy if one is profoundly aware that one has been the object of mercy on the part of the Father”.
Finally, in this time of preparation for Christmas, the Pope proposed the contemplation of the crib: “It is an invitation to feel, to touch the poverty that the Son of God chose for Himself in His Incarnation.”
Implicitly, he concluded, it is an appeal to follow Jesus on the path of humility which leads from the manger in Bethlehem to the Cross: an appeal to meet and serve Him with mercy towards our most needy brothers and sisters.
Vatican News – Pope Francis blesses baby Jesus statues during Angelus
Vatican News and Robin Gomes – Pope: God’s birth a revolution of love and tenderness
Vatican News and Linda Bordoni – Pope: ‘never look at your brothers and sisters in need with condescension’