ROME – God’s loving care for his children – listening to their cares, answering their prayers and petitions – is a cause for rejoicing, Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Sunday.
“The awareness that in difficulties we can always turn to the Lord, and that he never rejects our invocations, is a great reason for joy,” the pope said Dec. 16. “Shout with joy, rejoice, rejoice: this is the invitation of this Sunday.”
“No worries, no fear, will ever take away the serenity that does not come from human things, from human consolations, no, the serenity that comes from God, from knowing that God lovingly guides our life, and always does.”
Speaking on the third Sunday of Advent, known as “Gaudete Sunday,” Francis reflected on the peace, hope, and joy Christ brought into the world at his birth.
It is at the Annunciation, he said, that “in a remote village in Galilee, in the heart of a young woman unknown to the world, God ignites the spark of happiness for the whole world.”
The same message the Angel Gabriel gave to Mary on that day is also addressed to the entire Church, he stated: “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”
The message to the Church is, he said, to “rejoice, small Christian community, poor and humble but beautiful in my eyes because you crave my Kingdom, you are hungry and thirsty for justice, you patiently weave a fabric of peace,” you do not chase after the powerful in office, “but faithfully remain close to the poor.”
“And so, you are not afraid of anything, but your heart is joyful. If we live like this, in the presence of the Lord, our heart will always be joyful,” he said, explaining that joyfulness is not always a strong feeling; it can also be the humble everyday joy that is peace.
He said: “Peace is the smallest joy, but it is joy.”
So, Francis asked, how does one welcome the Lord’s invitation to joy? By asking, like the people who listened to the preaching of John the Baptist: “what must we do?”
“This question is the first step in the conversion that we are invited to take in this Advent time,” he said. “Each of us asks ourselves: what should I do? A small thing, but ‘what should I do?’”
As St. Paul says, make your prayers and petitions known to God, he said.
“May the Virgin Mary,” he prayed, “help us to open our hearts to the God who is coming, because he floods our whole life with joy.”
At the end of the Angelus prayer, Francis addressed the Roman children gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the annual blessing of the “bambinelli” – the baby Jesus statues and figurines that will be placed in nativity scenes on Christmas.
“Dear children, when, in your homes, you will gather in prayer in front of the nativity scene, fixing your gaze on the Child Jesus, you will feel wonder,” the pope said.
In an aside, he explained that the feeling of “wonder,” is “more than a common emotion.”
“It is to see God: Wonder for the great mystery of God made man; and the Holy Spirit will place in your heart the humility, the tenderness and the goodness of Jesus,” he said.
Francis also praised the recent approval of the “Global Compact for Safe, Ordinary and Regular Migration,” which took place in Marrakech, Morocco.
The pope said he hopes that with this compact, the international community will work “with responsibility, solidarity and compassion towards those who, for various reasons, have left their country, and I entrust this intention to your prayers.”