Pope Francis focused his daily homily on the importance of acknowledging the need for God in our lives in order to be fruitful Christians.
“Humility is necessary for faithfulness,” said the Pontiff on Dec. 19. “The humility to say to the Lord, ‘Lord, I am barren, I am a desert’ ...come to give us life, come to save us, because only You can. Alone, I cannot!”
In order to stress God’s ability to bring about new life, Pope Francis linked together the stories of the Old Testament in which barren women are given children by God and the image of a desert that becomes a forest.
“But can the desert blossom? Yes. Can the barren woman give life? Yes. This is the promise of the Lord: ‘I can! I can, from the dryness, from your dryness, bring forth life, salvation. From your aridity I can make fruit grow!’” he exclaimed.
The barren women and desert imagery are symbolic of those “who do not have the hope of life.”
But salvation is “the intervention of God who makes us fruitful, who gives us the capacity to give life.”
Too many Christians, noted the Pope, try to think of “saving themselves” when in fact, “all is grace.”
“It is the action of God that brings us salvation. It is the agency of God that helps us on the path to holiness. Only he can.”
“But what can we do on our part?” asked Pope Francis.
“First, to recognize our dryness, our incapacity to give life - know this. Second, to ask: ‘Lord, I want to be fruitful. I want my life to give life. Let my faith be fruitful and go forward and be able to give it to others.’”
Each Christian must say, “Lord, I am barren, I can’t. You can. I am a desert: I can’t, You can.”
In the last days of Advent, the Pontiff encouraged, we should repeat “these beautiful antiphons that the Church gives us to pray,” recognizing in them the different titles of Jesus.
“O Son of David, O Adonai, O Wisdom - today - O root of Jesse, O Emmanuel, come to give us life.”
“And with this humility, the humility of the desert, the humility of a barren soul, (we can) receive grace, the grace of blossoming, of bearing fruit and of giving life,” he concluded.