Entry 0500: Reflections on the Third Sunday of Advent
by Pope Francis
On three occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Third Sunday of Advent, on 15 December 2013, 14 December 2014 and 13 December 2015. Here are the texts of the three brief addresses prior to the recitation of the Angelus and two homilies delivered on these occasions.
Let us pray for ourselves and for all who pass through the Door of Mercy, that we may understand and welcome the infinite love of our Heavenly Father, who recreates, transforms and reforms life.
Saint Peter’s Square, 15 December 2013
Thank you! Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
Today is the Third Sunday of Advent, which is called Gaudete Sunday; that is, the Sunday of joy. In the Liturgy the invitation rings out several times to rejoice, why? Because the Lord is near. Christmas is near. The Christian message is called the ‘Gospel’; i.e. ‘good news’, an announcement of joy for all people; the Church is not a haven for sad people, the Church is a joyful home! And those who are sad find joy in her, they find in her true joy!
However, the joy of the Gospel is not just any joy. It consists in knowing one is welcomed and loved by God. As the Prophet Isaiah reminds us today (see 35:1-6a, 8a, 10), God is he who comes to save us and who seeks to help, especially those who are fearful of heart. His coming among us strengthens us, makes us steadfast, gives us courage, makes the desert and the steppe rejoice and blossom; that is, when our lives becomes arid. And when do our lives become arid? When they lack the water of God’s Word and his Spirit of love. However great our limitations and dismay, we are not allowed to be sluggish and vacillating when faced with difficulty and our own weakness. On the contrary, we are invited to strengthen the weak hands, to make firm the feeble knees, to be strong and to fear not, because our God always shows us the greatness of his mercy. He gives us the strength to go forward. He is always with us in order to help us to go forward. He is a God who loves us so very much, he loves us and that is why he is with us, to help us, to strengthen us, help us go forward. Courage! Always forward! Thanks to his help, we can always begin again. How? Begin again from scratch. Someone might say to me: “No, Father, I did so many reprehensible things, I am a great sinner, I cannot begin from scratch!” You are wrong! You can begin from scratch! Why? Because he is waiting for you, he is close to you, he loves you, he is merciful, he forgives you, he gives you the strength to begin again from scratch! Everybody! And so we are able to open our eyes again, to overcome sadness and mourning to strike up a new song. And this true joy remains even amid trial, even amid suffering, for it is not a superficial joy; because it permeates the depths of the person who entrusts himself to the Lord and confides in him.
Christian joy, like hope, is founded on God’s fidelity, on the certainty that he always keeps his promises. The Prophet Isaiah exhorts those who have lost their way and have lost heart to entrust themselves to the faithfulness of the Lord, for his salvation will not delay in bursting into their lives. All those who have encountered Jesus along the way experience a serenity and joy in their hearts which nothing and no one can take away. Our joy is Jesus Christ, his faithful love is inexhaustible! Therefore, when a Christian becomes sad, it means that he has distanced himself from Jesus. But then we must not leave him alone! We should pray for him, and make him feel the warmth of the community.
May the Virgin Mary help us to hasten our steps to
to encounter the Child who is born for us, for the salvation and joy of all people.
To her the angel said: “Hail, full of grace: the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). May
she obtain for us the grace to live the joy of the Gospel in our families, at work,
in the parish and everywhere. An intimate joy, fashioned of wonder and tenderness.
The joy a mother experiences when she looks at her newborn baby and feels that he
or she is a gift from God, a miracle for which she can only give thanks!
Saint Peter’s Square, 14 December 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Dear Children, Dear Boys and Girls,
For two weeks already, the Season of Advent has been calling us to spiritual vigilance in preparing the way for the Lord who is to come. On this Third Sunday, the Liturgy sets forth another interior attitude by which to live out this time of waiting for the Lord, that is joy. The joy of Jesus, as that sign [held up in St Peter’s Square] reads: “Joy is at home in Jesus.” That’s it, it proposes Jesus’ joy to us!
The human heart desires joy. We all desire joy, every family, every people aspires to happiness. But what is the joy that the Christian is called to live out and bear witness to? It is the joy that comes from the closeness of God, from his presence in our life. From the moment Jesus entered into history, with his birth in
Bethlehem, humanity received the seed of the , like the soil receives the seed, the
promise of a future harvest. There is no need to look further! Jesus has come to
bring joy to all people for all time. It is not just a hopeful joy or a joy postponed
until paradise: as if here on earth we are sad but in paradise we will be filled
with joy. No! It is not that, but a joy already real and tangible now, because Jesus himself is our joy, and
with Jesus joy finds its home, as your sign there says: joy is at home in Jesus.
All of us, let us say it: “Joy is at home in Jesus.” Once more: “Joy is at home
in Jesus.” And without Jesus is there joy? No! Well done! He is living, He is the
Risen One, and He works in us and among us especially with the Word and the Sacraments. Kingdom of God
We who are baptized, children of the Church, we are called to accept ever anew the presence of God among us and to help others to discover Him, or to rediscover what they have forgotten. It is a most beautiful mission, like that of John the Baptist: to direct the people to Christ—not to ourselves!—for He is the destination to which the human heart tends when it seeks joy and happiness.
In today’s liturgy St Paul again indicates the conditions for being “missionaries of joy:” praying constantly, always giving thanks to God, giving way to his Spirit, seeking the good and avoiding evil (see 1 Thess 5:17-22). If this becomes our lifestyle, then the Good News will be able to enter so many homes and help people and families to rediscover that in Jesus lies salvation. In Him it is possible to find interior peace and the strength to face different life situations every day, even the heaviest and most difficult. No one has ever heard of a sad saint with a mournful face. This is unheard of! It would be a contradiction. The Christian’s heart is filled with peace because he knows how to place his joy in the Lord even when going through the difficult moments in life. To have faith does not mean to never have difficult moments but to have the strength to face those moments knowing that we are not alone. And this is the peace that God gives to his children.
With her gaze turned to Christmas already close at hand, the Church invites us to bear witness that Jesus is not a person of the past; He is the Word of God who today continues to illuminate the path of mankind; his gestures—the Sacraments—are the manifestation of the tenderness, consolation and love that the Father bears for every human being. May the Virgin Mary, “Cause of our joy,” render us ever more joyous in the Lord, who comes to free us from the many forms of interior and exterior slavery.
PASTORAL VISIT TO THE ROMAN PARISH
“SAN GIUSEPPE ALL’AURELIO”
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Third Sunday of Advent, 14 December 2014
On this Sunday, the Church, looks forward to the joy of Christmas, and that is why it is called “Gaudete Sunday.” In this season, a time of preparation for Christmas, we wear dark vestments, but today they are pink for the blossoming of Christmas joy. And the joy of Christmas is a special joy; but it is a joy that isn’t just for the day of Christmas, it is for the entire life of a Christian. It is a serene and tranquil joy, a joy that forever accompanies the Christian. Even in difficult moments, in moments of difficulty, this joy becomes peace. When he is a true Christian, the Christian never loses his peace, even in suffering. That peace is a gift from the Lord. Christian joy is a gift from the Lord. “Ah, Father, we’ll have a nice big luncheon, everybody will be happy.” This is lovely, a nice luncheon is good; but this isn’t the Christian joy we are talking about today. Christian joy is something else. It brings us together to celebrate, it’s true. Thus the Church wants you to understand what Christian joy is.
The Apostle St Paul says to the Thessalonians: “Brothers, rejoice always.” And how can I rejoice? He says: “pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances.” We find our Christian joy in prayer, it comes from prayer and from giving thanks to God: “Thank you, Lord, for so many beautiful things!” But there are those who don’t know how to give thanks to God; they are always looking for something to lament about. I knew a sister—far from here!—this sister was a good woman, she worked, but her life was about lamenting, complaining about so many things that happened. You see, in the convent they called her “Sr Lamenta.” But a Christian cannot live like this, always looking for something to complain about: “That person has something I don’t have. Did you see what just happened?” This is not Christian! And it is harmful to find Christians with embittered faces, with a face wry with bitterness, not in peace. Never, never was there a saint with a mournful face, never! Saints always have joy in their faces. Or at least, amid suffering, a face of peace. The greatest suffering, the martyrdom of Jesus: He always had peace in his face and was concerned about others: his mother, John, the thief. His concern was for others.
To have this Christian joy, first, is prayer; second, to give thanks. And what do I do to give thanks? Reflect on your life and think of the many good things that life has given you: so many. “But, Father, it’s true, but I have also received so many bad things!”—“Yes, it’s true, it happens to us all. But think of the good things”—“I have a Christian family, Christian parents, thank God I have a job, my family is not suffering of hunger, we are all healthy.” I don’t know, so many things, and give thanks to the Lord for this. This accustoms us to joy. Pray, give thanks.
And then, the First Reading suggests another dimension that will help us to have joy. It is to bring others the Good News: We are Christians. “Christian” comes from “Christ,” and “Christ” means “anointed.” And we too are “anointed.” The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord consecrated me with unction. We are anointed: Christians mean “anointed ones.” And why are we anointed? To do what? “He sent me to bring the good news” to whom? “To the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (see Is 61:1-2). This is the vocation of Christ and the vocation of Christians as well. To go to others, to those in need, whether their needs be material or spiritual. Many people who suffer anxiety because of family problems. To bring peace there, to bring the unction of Jesus, the oil of Jesus which does so much good and consoles souls.
Therefore, in order to have this joy in preparation for Christmas, first, pray: “Lord, let me live this Christmas with true joy.” Not with the joy of consumerism that leads me to 24 December with anxiety, because “ah, I’m missing this, I’m missing that.” No, this is not the joy of God. Prayer. Second: give thanks to the Lord for the good things he has given us. Third, think of how we can go to others, to those in difficulty and with problems—let us think of the sick, of so many problems—to bring a little unction, peace, joy. This is the joy of the Christian. Agreed? We have 15 days left, a little less: 13 days. In these days, let us pray. But do not forget: let us pray, asking for the joy of Christmas. Let us give thanks to God for the good things that he has given us, above all the faith. This is a wonderful grace. Third, let us think where I can go to bring a little relief, a little peace, to those who suffer. Pray, give thanks and help others. And like this we will arrive at the Birth of the Anointed One, the Christ, as ones anointed in grace, prayer and acts of grace and help towards others.
May Our Lady accompany us on this path towards Christmas. And let there be joy, joy!
Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 13 December 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
In today’s Gospel, there is a question posed three times: “What shall we do?” (Lk 3:10, 12, 14). It is raised to John the Baptist by three categories of people: First, the crowd in general; second, the publicans or tax collectors; and, third, some soldiers. Each of these groups questions the prophet on what must be done to implement the conversion that he is preaching. John’s reply to the question of the crowd is sharing essential goods. He told the first group, the crowd, to share basic necessities, and therefore says: “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise” (v. 11). Then, he tells the second group, the tax collectors, to collect no more than the amount owed. What does this mean? No taking ‘bribes’, John the Baptist is clear. And he tells the third group, the soldiers, not to extort anything from anyone and to be content with their wages (see v. 14). There are three answers to the three questions of these groups. Three answers for an identical path of repentance, which is manifested in concrete commitments to justice and solidarity. It is the path that Jesus points to in all his preaching: the path of diligent love for neighbour.
From John the Baptist’s admonitions, we understand the general tendencies of those who at that time held power, in various forms. Things have not changed very much. However, no category of people is excluded from following the path of repentance to obtain salvation, not even the tax collectors, considered sinners by definition: not even they are excluded from salvation. God does not preclude anyone from the opportunity to be saved. He is—so to speak—anxious to show mercy, to show it towards everyone, and to welcome each one into the tender embrace of reconciliation and forgiveness.
We feel that this question—“What shall we do?”—is ours also. Today’s liturgy tells us, in the words of John, that it is necessary to repent, to change direction and take the path of justice, solidarity, sobriety: these are the essential values of a fully human and genuinely Christian life. Repent! It sums up the message of the Baptist. And the Liturgy of this Third Sunday of Advent helps us to rediscover a special dimension of repentance: joy. Whoever repents and approaches the Lord, feels joy. The prophet Zephaniah says to us today: “Sing aloud, O daughter of
(Zeph 3:14); and the apostle Paul exhorts the Christians of Philippi: “Rejoice in
the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). Today, it takes courage to speak of joy, which, above
all, requires faith! The world is beset by many problems, the future is burdened
by uncertainties and fears. Yet, Christians are a joyful people, and their joy is
not something superficial and ephemeral, but deep and stable, because it is a gift
from the Lord that fills life. Our joy comes from the certainty that “the Lord is
at hand” (Phil 4:5): he is close with his tenderness, his mercy, his forgiveness
and his love.
May the Virgin Mary help us to strengthen our faith, so that we are able to welcome the God of joy, the God of mercy, who always wants to live in the midst of his children. May our Mother teach us to share tears with those who weep, in order to be able to also share a smile.
BEGINNING OF THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Sunday, 13 December 2015
The invitation extended by the Prophet to the ancient city of
is also addressed today to the whole Church and to each one of us: “Rejoice, exult!”
(Zeph 3:14). The reason for joy is expressed with words which inspire hope, and
which can look to the future with serenity. The Lord revoked all condemnation and
has decided to live among us.
This Third Sunday of Advent draws our gaze towards Christmas, which is now near. We cannot let ourselves be taken in by weariness; sadness in any form is not allowed, even though we may have reason, with many concerns and the many forms of violence which wound our humanity. The coming of the Lord, however, must fill our hearts with joy. The prophet in whose very name—Zephaniah—is inscribed the content of this announcement, opens our hearts to trust: “God protects” his people. In a historical context of great tyranny and violence, especially by men of power, God makes it known that he will reign over his people, that he will no longer leave them at the mercy of the arrogance of their leaders, and that he will free them from all anguish. Today, we are asked to “let not our hands grow weak” (see Zeph 3:16) due to doubt, impatience or suffering.
The Apostle Paul vigorously resumes the teaching of the prophet Zephaniah and reiterates: “The Lord is at hand” (Phil 4:5). Because of this we should rejoice always, and to everyone graciously bear witness to the closeness and care that God has for each person.
We have opened the Holy Door, here and in all the Cathedrals of the world. Even this simple sign is an invitation to joy. The time of great forgiveness begins. It is the Jubilee of Mercy. It is time to rediscover the presence of God and his fatherly tenderness. God does not love rigidity. He is Father; he is tender. He does everything with the tenderness of the Father. We too are like the crowds who ask John, “What then shall we do” (Lk 3:10). The response of the Baptist is immediate. He invites us to act justly and to look after the needs of those who are in need. What John demands of his interlocutors, however, is what is reflected in the law. We, however, are asked for a more radical commitment. Before the Holy Door that we are called to pass through, we are asked to be instruments of mercy, knowing that we will be judged on this. Those who are baptized know that they have a greater task. Faith in Christ leads to a lifelong journey: to be merciful like the Father. The joy of passing through the Door of Mercy is accompanied by a commitment to welcome and witness to a love that surpasses justice, a love that knows no boundaries. It is for this infinite love that we are responsible, in spite of our contradictions.
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For reflections on the Third Sunday of Advent
by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.
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For reflections on the Third Sunday of Advent
by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.
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