Angelus of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 11 December 2005
Third Sunday of Advent
After celebrating the Solemnity
of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, we enter during these
days into the evocative atmosphere of immediate preparation for
Holy Christmas, and we already see
the tree set up here. In today's consumer society, this period
has unfortunately suffered a sort of
commercial "pollution" that risks changing its authentic spirit,
marked by recollection, moderation and joy, which
is not external but intimate.
It is thus providential that almost as a portal to
Christmas there should be the feast of the
one who is the
Mother of Jesus and
who, better than anyone else, can lead us to
and adore the Son
of God made man.
Let us therefore allow her
to accompany us; may her sentiments prompt
us to prepare ourselves with heartfelt sincerity and openness of spirit to
recognize in the Child of Bethlehem the
Son of God Who came into the world for our
redemption. Let us walk together with
her in prayer
and accept the repeated invitation that the Advent
liturgy addresses to us to remain in expectation - watchful
and joyful expectation -, for the Lord
will not delay: He comes to set
His people free from
Following a beautiful and firmly-rooted tradition, many families
set up their Crib immediately after the Feast of
the Immaculate Conception, as if to relive with
Mary those days full of trepidation
that preceded the birth of Jesus. Putting up
the Crib at home can be a simple but effective way of presenting
faith, to pass it
on to one's children.
The Crib helps us contemplate the
mystery of God's love that was
revealed in the poverty and
simplicity of the Bethlehem Grotto.
Saint Francis of Assisi was so taken by the
mystery of the Incarnation that
he wanted to present it anew at Greccio
in the living Nativity scene, thus beginning an old, popular tradition
that still retains its value for evangelization today.
Indeed, the Crib can help us understand the
secret of the true
Christmas because it speaks of the humility
and merciful goodness of
"though He was rich He made Himself poor"
for us (2Corinthians 8:9).
poverty enriches those who embrace it and
Christmas brings joy and
peace to those who, like the shepherds in
Bethlehem, accept the Angel's words: "Let
this be a sign to you: in a manger you will find an Infant wrapped in swaddling
clothes" (Luke 2:12). This is still the sign for us too, men
and women of the third millennium. There is
no other Christmas.
Soon, as did beloved John Paul II, I too will bless the
figurines of the Baby Jesus that the
children of Rome will place in the Crib in their homes. With this
act of Blessing, I would like to invoke the
help of the Lord so that all Christian
families will prepare to celebrate the coming
Christmas celebrations with faith.
May Mary help us enter into the
true spirit of Christmas.