Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno, blessed Sunday!
In the Gospel of today’s Liturgy we hear a beautiful promise that introduces us to the Time of Advent: “Your Lord is coming” (Mt 24:42). This is the foundation of our hope, it is what supports us even in the most difficult and painful moments of our life: God is coming, God is near and is coming. Let us never forget this! The Lord always comes, the Lord visits us, the Lord makes himself close, and will return at the end of time to welcome us in his embrace. Before this word, we ask ourselves: How will the Lord come? And how will we recognize him and welcome him? Let us dwell briefly on these two questions.
The first question: how will the Lord come? Very often we hear it said that the Lord is present on our path, that he accompanies us and speaks to us. But perhaps, distracted as we are by many things, this truth remains merely theoretical for us; yes, we know that the Lord is coming but we do not live according to this truth, or we imagine that the Lord will come in a spectacular way, perhaps through some miraculous sign. And instead, Jesus says that he will come as in “the days of Noah” (cf. v. 37). And what did they do in the days of Noah? Simply, the normal, everyday things of life, as always: “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (v. 38). Let us bear this in mind: God is hidden in our life, he is always there – he is concealed in the commonest and most ordinary situations in our life. He does not come in extraordinary events, but in everyday things; he manifests himself in everyday things. He is there, in our daily work, in a chance encounter, in the face of someone in need, even when we face days that seem grey and monotonous, it is right there that we find the Lord, who calls to us, speaks to us and inspires our actions.
However, there is a second question: how can we recognize and welcome the Lord? We must be awake, alert, vigilant. Jesus warns us: there is the danger of not realizing his coming and being unprepared for his visit. I have recalled on other occasions what Saint Augustine said: “I fear the Lord who passes by” (Sermons, 88, 14.13), that is, I fear that he will pass by and I will not recognize him! Indeed, Jesus says that those people in the time of Noah ate and drank “and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away” (v. 39). Pay attention to this: they did not realize anything! They were absorbed in their own things and did not realize that the flood was about to come. Indeed, Jesus says that, when he will come, “two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left” (v. 40). In what sense? What is the difference? Simply that one was vigilant, he was waiting, capable of discerning God’s presence in daily life, whereas the other was distracted, “pulled along”, and did not notice anything.
Brothers and sisters, in this time of Advent, let us be shaken out of our torpor and let us awaken from our slumber! Let’s try to ask ourselves: am I aware of what I am living, am I alert, am I awake? Do I try to recognize God’s present in daily situations, or am I distracted and a little overwhelmed by things? If we are unaware of his coming today, we will also be unprepared when he arrives at the end of times. Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us remain vigilant! Waiting for the Lord to come, waiting for the Lord to come close to us, because he is there, but waiting alert. And may the Holy Virgin, Woman of waiting, who knew how to perceive the passing of God in the humble and hidden life of Nazareth and welcomed him in her womb, help us in this journey of being attentive to wait for the Lord who is among us and passes by.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters!
I follow with concern the increase in violence and clashes that have been taking place for months in the State of Palestine and in Israel. Last Wednesday, two cowardly attacks in Jerusalem injured many people and killed an Israeli boy; and the same day, during armed clashes in Nablus, a Palestinian boy died. Violence kills the future, shattering the lives of the young and weakening hopes for peace. Let us pray for these young men who died and for their families, especially their mothers. I hope that the Israeli and Palestinian authorities will more readily take to heart the search for dialogue, building mutual trust, without which there will never be a peaceful solution in the Holy Land.
And I also wish to remember Burkhard Scheffler, who died three days ago here beneath the colonnade of Saint Peter’s Square; he froze to death.
I affectionately greet you all, from Italy and various countries, especially the pilgrims from Warsaw and Granada, the representatives of the Romanian community and those of the community of East Timor present in Rome, as well as the Ecuadorians who are celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of El Quinche. I greet the Red Cross volunteers of Acerenza, the Ente Nazionale Pro Loco d’Italia, and the faithful of Turin, Pinerolo, Palermo, Grottammare and Campobasso. I address a special thanks to the Italian bakers, in the hope they will overcome the current difficulties.
I greet the participants in the March that took place this morning to denounce sexual violence against women, unfortunately a general and widespread reality everywhere and also used as a weapon of war. Let us not tire of saying no to war, no to violence, yes to dialogue, yes to peace; in particular for the martyred Ukrainian people. Yesterday we recalled the tragedy of the Holodomor.
I greet the secretariat of the FIAC (International Forum of Catholic Action), gathered in Rome on the occasion of the Eighth Assembly.
And I wish you all a blessed Sunday and a good Advent journey. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch, and arrivederci!