-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Pope Francis: The Church Is a House of Joy, Not a Refuge for Sad People
Addresses Faithful on Gaudete Sunday During Angelus
VATICAN CITY, December 16, 2013 (Zenit.org) - Addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that the Church is not a refuge for sad people but rather a house of joy.
Thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square despite the rainy weather in Rometo hear the Pope speak about the third Sunday of Advent, also known as "Gaudete" (Rejoice) Sunday.
The Holy Father said that the Gospel message is "an announcement of joy for the whole people.
"Those who are sad find joy in her, they find true joy in her," the Pope said. Referring to the first reading of the Sunday from the prophet Isaiah, Pope Francis told those present that God comes to encourage those who are fearful of heart, or rather, when our life becomes dry and arid.
"And when does our life become arid?" he asked. "This happens when it lacks the water of the Word of God and his Spirit of love. However, great are our limits and our dismay, we are not permitted to be downhearted and vacillating in the face of our infirmities."
"On the contrary, we are invited to get a grip and straighten our weak knees, to have courage and not be afraid because our God always shows us the greatness of his mercy."
Encouraging those who feel that they can't have a fresh start in life because of their sins, the Holy Father said that God awaits all with mercy and love, ready to forgive. This allows us to overcome sadness and gives us true joy in times of trial.
Christian joy, like hope, has its foundation in God's fidelity, in the certainty that he always keeps his promises," the Pope said. "The prophet Isaiah exhorts those who have lost their way and are in trouble to trust in the Lord's fidelity because his salvation will not delay in breaking into their life."
"Jesus Christ," he exclaimed, "is our joy! His faithful love is inexhaustible!" The Pope went on to say that when a Christian is sad, it means that they have distanced themselves from Jesus. The Holy Father stressed the importance of praying for those who are sad and make them "feel the warmth of the community."
Prior to reciting the Angelus, Pope Francis called on the faithful to look at the example of Mary during the Advent season, who obtains for all of us the joy of the Gospel.
"It is an intimate joy, made of wonder and tenderness," he concluded. "It is what a mother experiences when she looks at her newborn child, and feels that he is a gift of God, a miracle that she can only be grateful for!"
Following the Angelus, the Holy Father thanked the crowds for braving the weather and addressed the children of the families who came for the traditional blessing of the Bambinelli, the figurines of Christ for the crèche.
"Dear children, when you pray before your crèche, remember me too, as I will remember you. I thank you, and Merry Christmas!" he said. (J.A.E.)
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