Vatican City, Dec 9, 2007 (CNA) - Before reciting the Angelus at noon today, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that John the Baptist’s call to conversion speaks strongly to the "men and women of our time, who live and receive Christmas in such a way that unfortunately, they often suffer from a materialistic mentality. "
Thousands of pilgrims crowded into St. Peter's Square today to pray the Angelus with the Holy Father. Before praying the Angelus, he recalled the Gospel reading from today, the second Sunday of Advent, and noted that it calls us to "open [our] hearts and welcome the Son of God who comes into our midst to express divine justice."
"The Father," writes John the evangelist, does not judge anyone, but has given the Son the power to judge, because he is the Son of man. And it is today, the present, which determines our future destiny, it is in our particular behavior in this life that we decide our eternal fate, "said the Pontiff.
Continuing his reflection he said, "at the end of our days on earth, at the time of death, we will be judged according to our likeness or unlikeness with the child that is born in the poor cave of Bethlehem, because he is the standard of measure that God gave mankind."
Later, the Pope explained that "the Heavenly Father, in the birth of his only begotten Son has expressed his merciful love, he calls us to follow in his footsteps making, like him, our existence a gift of love. And the fruits of love are those 'worthy fruits of conversion' referred to by St. John the Baptist. "
At the end of his speech, the Pope noted that "through the Gospel, John the Baptist continues to speak through the centuries, to each generation."
"His clear and harsh words – I agree- are much healthier for us, men and women of our time, where the way of life and frequent perception of Christmas unfortunately suffers from a materialistic mentality. The 'voice' of the great prophet calls us to prepare the way for the Lord to come, in the deserts of today, deserts outside and inside, thirsty for the living water that is Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI concluded his reflection by asking the Virgin Mary to guide us to a "genuine conversion of heart" so that we understand the "need to tune our culture to the Gospel."