The Vatican

Pope encourages preparation for encounter with Christ

Pope Francis has deepened in his Angelus meditation on the evangelical virtue of vigilance, in the light of Sunday's readings.

Paloma López Campos-December 3, 2023-Reading time: 2 minutes
Pope Francis

The Pope during the general audience on Wednesday, Nov. 29 (CNS photo / Pablo Esparza)

Pope Francis has prayed the Angelus this first Sunday of Advent from Santa Marta. Although his state of health continues to improve, as reported by the Holy See, doctors recommended the Pontiff to accompany the faithful in this prayer from inside his residence.

In his brief meditation, Francis stressed a concept that Christ repeats up to three times in today's Gospel: vigilance. Before elaborating on it, the Holy Father warned that this is not "an attitude motivated by fear of imminent punishment, as if a meteorite were about to fall from the sky and threaten to crush us, if we do not turn away in time."

On the contrary, the vigilance preached by Jesus relates to the servant, to "the 'trusted person' of the master," the Pope explains. The servant of the Bible is the one with whom "there is a relationship of cooperation and affection." Therefore, vigilance is a virtue based "on longing, on waiting to meet the master who is coming".

This is the expectation that Christians must have, Francis points out. "Whether it be at Christmas, which we will celebrate in a few weeks; whether it be at the end of time, when he returns in glory; whether it be every day, when he comes to meet us in the Eucharist, in his Word, in our brothers and sisters, especially in those most in need."

The house of the heart

The Holy Father invites everyone to "carefully prepare the house of the heart, so that it may be orderly and welcoming". This is what evangelical vigilance really means, "to be prepared in heart. It is the attitude of the watchman, who in the night does not let himself be tempted by weariness, does not fall asleep, but remains awake waiting for the light that will come".

The two best preparations, says Francis, are prayer and charity. "In this regard, it is told that St. Martin of Tours, a man of prayer, after giving half of his cloak to a poor man, dreamed of Jesus dressed precisely in that part of the cloak he had given." The Pope considers that in this event the Christian finds an exemplary model for living Advent. So much so that he encourages Catholics to "find Jesus who comes in every brother and sister who needs us, and to share with them what we can".

Pope prays for the world

Finally, the Holy Father encourages us to avoid useless distractions and constant complaints, and to turn to the Virgin Mary, "woman of waiting". At the end of the Angelus, Francis called for a new cease-fire in the war between Israel and Palestine, whose truce has already ended. On the other hand, he remembered the victims of the attack during a Mass in the Philippines.

The Pope also made an "appeal to respond to climate change with concrete political changes", since this weekend the COP 28 is taking place in Dubai, which he was unable to attend due to health reasons. Finally, he invited everyone to welcome people with disabilities on this International Day, which has become a special echo of this month of December.

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