.- During Sunday's Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI prayed that all people might know how to read the signs of God's work in their lives just as St. Joseph did.
St. Peter's Square, adorned with a towering 110-foot tall Norway spruce tree, was brimmed with people already in festive spirits as Christmas nears. Those gathered were bundled up on the unusually cold morning in Rome, a novelty that added still more to the holiday atmosphere.
Before the prayer, the Pope spoke about the Gospel reading from the fourth and final Sunday of the season of Advent. In the reading, St. Matthew recounts the birth of Jesus from St. Joseph's point of view.
Christ's father on earth, St. Joseph, is described as a "just man." He is faithful to the Lord and willing to do his will, noted the Pope.
In the Bible passage, the ancient prophecy is fulfilled and the Son of God is made man in the womb of a virgin. St. Joseph, upset at finding that Mary is with child, decides to quietly leave her.
But an angel comes to him in a dream and tells him not to fear, to take Mary as his wife and to name the child "Emmanuel," or "God is with us," because he "shall save his people from their sins."
Joseph then abandons the thought of leaving Mary, said the Pope, "because now his eyes see the work of God in her."
St. Joseph is "certain of doing the right thing," obeys the angel's command, and stays with her. In following the directives of God, said the Pope, he joins the ranks of the humble and faithful servants, like the angels, prophets, martyrs and apostles.
Joseph "announces the portents of the Lord, giving testimony to the virginity of Mary, the gratuitous actions of God and protecting the earthly life of the Messiah," he said.
"Thus, we venerate the 'legal father' of Jesus, because in him the new man is outlined, one who looks with trust and courage to the future, who does not seek his own project but entrusts himself totally to the infinite mercy of He who makes the prophecies true and opens up the time of salvation."
Pope Benedict entrusted all of the Church's priests and bishops to St. Joseph, the universal patron of the Church. He exhorted clergy to bring themselves ever closer to the person of Jesus, to "present quietly Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world."
He then asked for the intercession of Mary so that as Christmas approaches, all people's eyes might be opened to see Jesus and that their heart might rejoice.
The Pope also prayed that all people might receive Jesus "with love and humility, and like St. Joseph that we might know how to read signs of Providence in daily life."
Saying goodbye to the crowd from his studio window, he wished all "a good Sunday and a serene Christmas in the light and the peace of the Lord."