.- Pope Benedict XVI greeted the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sunday morning, praying the Angelus with them and inviting them to remember the deep hope and joy which comes to the world through Christ – even in the midst of suffering and trial.
“On this third Sunday of Advent," said the Pope, "the liturgy invites us to the joy of the spirit...The joy that the liturgy reawakens in the hearts of Christians is not reserved just for them, it is a prophetic announcement addressed to all humanity, especially to the poor, in this case to those poorest in joy!”
Our thoughts go, the Holy Father continued, "to our brothers and sisters who, especially in the Middle East, in some parts of Africa and in other parts of the world, experience the drama of war. What joy can they have? How will their Christmas be? We think of the many sick and lonely people, who suffer spiritual as well as physical torment because they often feel abandoned. How can we share our joy with them without showing a lack of respect for their suffering?
"But we also think," he added, "of those people, especially the young, who have lost all feeling of real joy, and seek it in vain where it cannot be found: in the constant pursuit of self-affirmation and success, ... in consumerism, in moments of inebriation, in the artificial paradise of drugs and all forms of alienation. We cannot but compare today's liturgy, and its invitation to be joyful, with these dramatic truths."
“Yet the Word of the Lord," the Pope concluded, "is addressed precisely to those undergoing moments of trial, to those 'wounded by life and orphaned of joy.' The invitation to joy is not an alienating message, or a sterile palliative, rather it is the prophecy of salvation, an appeal to redemption that begins with inner renewal.”