16-December-2012 -- Vatican Information Service |

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The Joy Of Advent

Vatican City, 16 December 2012 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI, as bishop of Rome, visited the parish of San Patrizio al Colle Prenestino, an area urbanised between the 1960s and 1980s, and which has a new Church since 2007. The Pope was received by the parish community in which he met with the children baptised this year, accompanied by their fathers, and presided at the Holy Mass at 10 a.m.

On the third Sunday of Advent, called "Gaudete" Sunday as it invites us to be glad, the Holy Father observed that Advent is not only a time for conversion but also for joy, because "it is the time in which the anticipation of the Saviour is awakened in the hearts of believers, and awaiting the arrival of a loved one always brings joy".

The Pope commented on the first reading in which Zephaniah uses the expression "Sing aloud, O daughter Zion", explaining that the prophet intended to say that "there is no longer any reason for distrust ... or sadness, whatever situation we have to face, because we are certain of the presence of the Lord, which alone is enough to gladden and cheer the heart. The prophet also makes us understand that this joy is reciprocal; we are invited to rejoice, but also the Lord rejoices at His bond with us".

"In just a few days' time we will celebrate Christmas, the feast of the coming of God, who came among us as a child and as our brother to be with us and to share in our human condition. We must rejoice for His closeness and His presence, and always to seek to understand that He is truly near, so that the goodness of God and the joy of Christ might enter into us. ... St. Paul expressed emphatically in one of his letters that nothing can separate us from God's love as manifested in Christ. Only sin can lead us astray from Him, but this is an element that we ourselves bring to our relationship with Him. However, even when we turn away from Him, He never ceases to love us and to remain close to us with His mercy, His willingness to forgive and to welcome us anew in His love".

Therefore "we must never distress ourselves, as we can always express our wishes,our needs and our concerns to the Lord 'with prayer and petition'. This is a great cause for joy: to know that it is always possible to pray to the Lord and that the Lord hears us, that God is not distant from us, but truly listens to us, that He knows us and never turns away from our prayers, and even if He does not always respond as we might wish, he nevertheless responds."

However, "the joy that the Lord communicates to us must find grateful love in us. Indeed, we achieve full joy when we recognise His mercy, when we become aware of the signs of His goodness. ... He who receives the gifts of God in a spirit of selfishness does not know true joy; rather, it is he who finds in God's gifts the opportunity to love Him with sincere gratitude and to communicate His love to others whose heart is filled with joy", concluded the Pope.

Following the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope greeted the sick and elderly of the parish and returned to the Vatican to pray the Angelus.

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