Advent


https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/advent/02.12.18%20a.jpg

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today Advent begins, the liturgical time which prepares us for Christmas, inviting us to lift our gaze and open our hearts to welcome Jesus. During Advent we do not just live in anticipation of Christmas; we are also called to rekindle the anticipation of the glorious return of Christ — when he will return at the end of time — preparing ourselves, with consistent and courageous choices, for the final encounter with him. We remember Christmas, we await the glorious return of Christ, and also our personal encounter: the day in which the Lord will call.

During these four weeks we are called to leave behind a resigned and routine way of life and to go forth, nourishing hope, nourishing dreams for a new future. This Sunday’s Gospel (cf. Lk 21:25-28, 34-36) goes in this very direction and puts us on guard against allowing ourselves to be oppressed by an egocentric lifestyle or by the phrenetic pace of our days. Jesus’ words resonate in a particularly incisive way: “take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly ... But watch at all times, praying” (vv. 34, 36).

To be mindful and to pray: this is how to live the time between now and Christmas. To be mindful and to pray. Inner listlessness comes from always turning around ourselves and being blocked by our own life, with its problems, its joy, and suffering, but always turning around ourselves. And this is wearying; this is dull, this closes us off to hope. Here lies the root of the lethargy and laziness that the Gospel speaks about. Advent invites us to a commitment to vigilance, looking beyond ourselves, expanding our mind and heart in order to open ourselves up to the needs of people, of brothers and sisters, and to the desire for a new world. It is the desire of many people tormented by hunger, by injustice and by war. It is the desire of the poor, the weak, the abandoned. This is a favourable time to open our hearts, to ask ourselves concrete questions about how and for whom we expend our lives.

The second attitude to best experience the time of awaiting the Lord is that of prayer. Arise, “look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (v. 28), the Gospel of Luke cautions. It is about standing up and praying, turning our thoughts and our hearts to Jesus who is about to come. One stands when awaiting something or someone. We await Jesus and we wish to await him in prayer which is closely linked to vigilance. Praying, awaiting Jesus, opening oneself to others, being mindful, not withdrawn in ourselves. But if we think of Christmas in the light of consumerism, of seeing what I can buy in order to do this and that, of a worldly celebration, Jesus will pass by and we will not find him. We await Jesus and we wish to await him in prayer which is closely linked to vigilance.

But what is the horizon of our prayerful anticipation? In the Bible the voices of the prophets are especially revealing to us. Today it is that of Jeremiah who speaks to the people who had been harshly tried by exile and who risked losing their very identity. We Christians too, who are also the People of God, run the risk of becoming worldly and of losing our identity, indeed of ‘paganizing’ the Christian way. Therefore, we need the Word of God through which the prophet proclaims: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made ... I will cause a righteous Branch to spring forth for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” (Jer 33:14-15). And that righteous branch is Jesus. It is Jesus who comes and whom we await. May the Virgin Mary, who leads us to Jesus, a woman of expectation and prayer, help us to strengthen our hope in the promises of her Son Jesus, in order to enable us to understand that through the travail of history, God always remains steadfast and uses human errors, too, to manifest his mercy.


Pope Francis             03.12.18 Holy Mass Santa Marta     Matthew 8: 5-11
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-12/pope-francis-homily-daily-mass-advent-purifying-faith.html

Advent, which began on Sunday, is a good time for purifying the spirit, for making the faith grow with this purification. Even today, it can happen that faith can become a habit for us; we can get used to it, forgetting its “liveliness.” When the faith becomes a habit, we lose that strength of the faith, that newness of the faith that is always renewed.

The first dimension of Advent is the past, “the purification of memory”: We have to remember that
Christmas is not about the birth of a Christmas tree, but about the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Lord is born, the Redeemer who has come to save us. Yes, it is a celebration…but we always face the danger, we will always have within us the temptation to make Christmas mundane, worldly… When the celebration stops being about contemplation—a beautiful family celebration with Jesus at the centre—it begins to be a worldly celebration: all about shopping, presents, this and that… and the Lord remains there, forgotten. Even in our own life: yes, He is born, at Bethlehem, but then what?… Advent is a time for purifying the memory of this time past, of that dimension.

Advent also serves to purify hope, preparing us for the definitive encounter with the Lord.

Because the Lord who came then will return! He will return! He will return to ask us: “How did your life go?” It will be a personal encounter. We have a personal encounter with the Lord, today, in the Eucharist; we cannot have such a personal with the Christmas of 2000 years ago: we have the memorial of that. But when He will return, we will have that personal encounter. It is purifying hope.

I invite everyone to cultivate the daily dimension of the faith, despite so many cares and worries, taking custody of our own interior home. Our God, in fact, is the God of surprises, and Christians must constantly discern what the heavenly Father is saying to us today.

The third dimension is more daily: purifying our watchfulness. Vigilance and prayer are two words for Advent: Because historically the Lord came in Bethlehem; and He will come, at the end of the world and also at the end of our individual lives. But every day, every moment, He comes into our hearts, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.



Pope Francis        04.12.18  Holy Mass  Santa Marta            Isaiah 11: 1-10
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/peace/04.12.18.jpg

Peace-making consists in not talking evil of and harming others, a bit like imitating God, who humbled Himself

In the pastoral scene evoked by Isaiah in the first reading, where the wolf and the lamb, and the leopard and the kid live side by side harmlessly, the prophet speaks about the peace of Jesus that transforms life and history, which is why He is called the "Prince of Peace".

Advent, therefore, is the time to prepare ourselves for this Prince of Peace by being at peace with ourselves, our soul, that is often in anxiety, anguish and without hope. For this, one needs to start with oneself.

Today the Lord asks us whether our soul is at peace? If not, then we should ask the Prince of Peace to pacify our souls, so we can meet Him.   We are so used to looking at the souls of others rather than our own.

After being at peace with our soul, it is time to be at peace at home, in the family.  There is much sadness in families with much struggle, “small wars” and at times disunity.

I urge Christians to examine themselves whether they are at peace or at war in their families or against others, whether there are bridges or walls that separate.

Make peace in the world where there is much war, disunity, hatred and exploitation. Christians should ask themselves what they are doing about creating peace in the world by working for peace in the neighbourhood, in the school and in the workplace.

I urge Christians to ask themselves whether they find excuses to make war, to hate, to talk ill about others and condemn or are they meek and try to build bridges.

Peace, is never still but always moves forward. It starts with the soul, and after making its journey of peace, returns to the soul. Making peace is a bit like imitating God. When He wanted to make peace with us and forgave us, He sent His Son to make peace, to be the Prince of peace.

To be a peacemaker one does not have to be wise and learned and study peace. Peace is an attitude that Jesus speaks about in the Gospel. Jesus glorifies God because he has hidden these things from the wise and learned and has revealed them to the little ones.

I urge Christians to make themselves small, humble and be the servant of others. The Lord will give you the ability to understand how to make peace and will provide you the strength to make it.

Children too can ask themselves whether at school they bully a companion they dislike because he is a little hateful or weak, or they make peace and forgive everything.

Whenever there is the possibility of a “small war” at home, in the heart, at school or at work, we should stop short and try and make peace. “Never, never wound the other. Never.”  I exhort Christians to start by not speaking ill of others or firing the first cannon. This way, we become men and women of peace, carrying peace forward.