Pope at Angelus: Jesus is our joy
(Vatican Radio) An especially large crowd filled St Peter’s Square on Sunday for the papal blessing of the Baby Jesus figurines for the Nativity scenes that are the centre of traditional Italian Christmas decorations. The annual tradition takes place on the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as “Gaudete” Sunday from the first words of the prayers of the day’s Mass.
The Latin word “Gaudete,” meaning “rejoice” gave the Pope the inspiration for his remarks ahead of the Angelus prayer. “In this third Sunday,” he said, “the liturgy proposes to us an interior attitude with which to live this waiting for the Lord: that is, ‘joy,’ the joy of Jesus.” Pointing to a sign in the crowd, the Holy Father said, “With Jesus, joy is part of the home” (It: Con Gesù, la gioia è di casa). It was a phrase Pope Francis would return to throughout his remarks.
“The heart of every person desires joy… All of us desire joy, every family, every people aspires to happiness,” he continued. The Christian, he said, is called to live and to witness to the joy that comes from the nearness of God, from God’s presence in our life. Christian joy is not simply the fullness of joy that we will experience in heaven, the Pope said. Rather, it begins even in this life, it is experienced even now, “because Jesus is our joy, our home with Jesus is our joy.” He asked the crowd to say with him “With Jesus, joy is part of the home.”
Pope Francis said all Christians are called to welcome God’s presence in their lives, and to help others discover that presence, or to re-discover it if they have forgotten it. He called this “a beautiful mission, similar to that of John the Baptist: to orient people to Christ… because he is the goal toward which the heart of each person tends when it seeks joy and happiness.”
Turning to the readings of the day, the Holy Father said that St Paul shows us the conditions for being “missionaries of joy”: to pray with perseverance, to always give thanks to God, to seek what is good and avoid what is evil. “If this is our way of life,” he said, “the Good News would be able to enter into so many homes and help people and families to rediscover that in Jesus there is salvation.” In Jesus, he said, we find the inner peace and the strength to face the situations we find ourselves in each day – even in times of difficulty. “The Christian is a person who has a heart filled with peace because he knows to place his joy in the Lord, even when he is going through difficult moments in life.” Pope Francis said that having the faith doesn’t mean there won’t be difficult moments in our life; rather, it means “having the strength to confront them knowing that we are not alone.” God is present in our lives, “and this is the peace that God gives to His children.”
As Christmas approaches, the Pope said in conclusion, “the Church invites us to bear witness that Jesus is not a person of the past; He is the Word of God who today continues to illuminate the journey of humankind; His actions – the Sacraments – are the manifestation of the tenderness, of the consolation, and of the love of the Father for every human being.”