The theme chosen by the Roman Oratory Centre for this traditional appointment with Pope Francis on Sunday was “All the joy in a manger”.
Speaking from the window of his studio in the Apostolic Palace, the Pope told the children wrapped up against the winter chill, that “when you gather in your homes in prayer before the manger, looking at the Child Jesus, you will feel amazement at the great mystery of God made man; and the Holy Spirit will give your heart the humility, tenderness and goodness of Jesus. This is the true Christmas! May this be so for you and for your families.”
Before the recitation of the Marian Prayer, Pope Francis said the liturgy on this third Sunday of Advent invites us to be joyful. The inhabitants of Jerusalem are called to rejoice because the Lord has lifted his condemnation. The Pope continued, “consequently, there is no longer any reason for sadness or discouragement for the people, but everything leads to joyful gratitude to God, who always wants to redeem and save those he loves.”
Delving into the readings of the day, the Pope noted that the appeal of the prophet Zephaniah who says, ‘He will rejoice for you, he will renew you with his love, he will exult for you with cries of joy’, “is particularly appropriate at this time as we prepare for Christmas”, because, the Pontiff added, “it applies to Jesus, the Emmanuel, the God who is with us: his presence is the source of joy.”
Saint Paul, Pope Francis commented, “also exhorts us today not to be anxious for anything, but in every circumstance to present to God our requests, our needs, our concerns with prayers and supplications. The awareness that in difficulties we can always turn to the Lord, and that He never rejects our invocations, is a great reason for joy”, the Pope said. “No worry, no fear will ever be able to take away from us the serenity that comes from knowing that God guides our lives lovingly, always. Even in the midst of problems and suffering, this certainty nourishes hope and courage.”
Pope Francis stressed this season of Advent is one of conversion, and in order to accept the Lord’s invitation to joy, he said, we need to be asking ourselves at this time “what should I do”.