VATICAN — Pope Benedict XVI has said Advent is a time to extend God’s “Kingdom of love” and to reflect on the coming of Jesus into the world.
“Amid the turmoil of the world, or the deserts of indifference and materialism, Christians accept salvation from God and witness with a different way of life, like a city set on a hill,” said Pope Benedict during his Dec. 2 Angelus comments at St. Peter’s Square.
The Holy Father said that the community of believers is “a sign of the love of God, his justice that is present in history but that is not yet fully realized, and that we must, therefore, always be waiting and seeking it with courage and patience.”
He said Advent begins a new liturgical year that is “further enriched” this year by the Year of Faith, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.
The word “advent” means “coming” or “presence.” In ancient times, it originally meant the visit of a king or emperor, but for Christians, it now refers to the coming of God, the Pope explained.
Advent refers to two moments related to the first and second coming of Jesus, according to the Pope. The first is the Incarnation, and the second is his coming at the end of time.
He said these two moments are “deeply touching” because Jesus’ death and resurrection have “already made the transformation of man and the cosmos, which is the end for which we were created.”
Pope Benedict said the Virgin Mary perfectly embodies the spirit of Advent, which involves both listening to God and having a deep desire to do his will in joyful service to others.
“Let us be guided by her, because some are closed to or distracted from God,” he said. “May each of us extend a little of his Kingdom of love, justice and peace.”
He said the “saving plan of God” is always taking place and constantly requires the free collaboration of man and the Church.
The Pope referred to the Sunday reading from Gospel of Luke, which says “watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened by drunkenness and the cares of life. … Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen.”
He also spoke of St. Paul’s exhortation to “increase and abound in love.”
Turning to more specific concerns, the Pope appealed to governments to promote disabled people's full participation in society.
“Each person, despite his physical and psychological limits, even serious ones, is always invaluable and must be considered as such,” he said.
The Pope encouraged church communities to be attentive and welcoming towards them and said he urged governments to “protect people with disabilities and promote their full participation in society.”
Dec. 3 marks the International Day for People With Disabilities.
Pope Benedict also mentioned the beatification of Devasahayam Pillai, an Indian lay Catholic from the 18th century who died as a martyr:“We join the joy of the Church in India and pray that the new 'Blessed' sustain the faith of the Christians of that great and noble country.”