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Sunday, December 5, 2010
VATICAN: POPE CALLS FOR PEACE AND RELEASE OF HOSTAGES
RADIO VATICANA REPORT:
Pope urges peace for Iraq, Egypt, release of Sinai hostages
“In this Advent season, in which we are called to nurture our awaiting the coming of the Lord and to welcome him among us, I invite you to pray for all situations of violence, intolerance, suffering in the world, that the coming of Jesus may bring consolation, reconciliation and peace. I think of the many difficult situations, such as the continuous attacks that occur in Iraq against Christians and Muslims, the clashes in Egypt where there were deaths and injuries, the victims of traffickers and criminals, such as the drama of the hostages, Eritreans and of other nationalities, in the Sinai desert. Respect for the rights of all is the prerequisite for peace. Our prayer to the Lord and our solidarity can bring hope to those who are suffering”.
These the words of Pope Benedict XVI during his Angelus reflection on this the second Sunday of Advent. Thousands of families had flocked to St Peter’s square, despite the rigid winter chill, to see the towering Christmas tree, still bare of decorations, which had been lifted into position earlier this week, beside the nativity scene. Small children crowded around the barriers that conceal the work in progress, hoping to catch a glimpse of this years re-creation of Bethlehem in the heart of the Vatican.
Speaking to them before the Marian prayer, Pope Benedict XVI pondered the meaning of Advent as a time of preparation for the coming of Our Savoir, inspired by the Gospel of the day. He said “it presents the figure of St. John the Baptist, who, according to a famous prophecy of Isaiah (cf. 40.3), withdrew into the wilderness of Judea and through his preaching, called the people to repent in order to be ready for the imminent coming of the Messiah. St. Gregory the Great says that the Baptist preaches the true faith and good works ... so that the penetrating power of grace, the light of truth shine, the pathways to God straightened and honest thoughts are born in souls after listening to the Word that leads to all good "(Hom. in Evangelia, XX, 3, CCL 141, 155). The precursor of Jesus, is located between the Old and New Covenant, he is like a star before the sunrise, Christ, the One, that is on whom - according to another prophecy of Isaiah - " The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:2)”.
He continued “In the time of Advent, we too are called to hear God's voice, echoing in the wilderness of the world through the Holy Scriptures, especially when they are preached with the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith, in fact, becomes stronger the more we allow ourselves be enlightened by the Word of God, from " For whatever was written previously - as the Apostle Paul reminds us - was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope"(Rom. 15:4). The model of listening is the Virgin Mary: " As we contemplate in the Mother of God a life totally shaped by the word, we realize that we too are called to enter into the mystery of faith, whereby Christ comes to dwell in our lives. Every Christian believer, Saint Ambrose reminds us, in some way interiorly conceives and gives birth to the word of God "(Apostolic Exhortation. Postsin. Verbum Domini, 28).
Pope Benedict went on to say that “"our salvation is based on a coming", as Romano Guardini wrote (La santa notte. Dall’Avvento all’Epifania, Brescia 1994, p. 13). "The Saviour came from the freedom of God ... So the choice of Faith consists in …welcoming He who comes ..." (p. 14). "The Redeemer, - adds the German-Italian theologian – comes to each man in his joys and anxieties, his certainties, in his doubts and temptations, in all that constitutes his nature and his life" (ibid., p . 15).
Finally he concluded “We ask the Virgin Mary in whose womb the Son of the Most High dwelt, and who we celebrate next Wednesday, December 8th, in the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, to support us on this spiritual path, to welcome in faith and love the coming of the Saviour “.