.- The Holy Father delivered his Angelus address today on the theme of today’s entrance antiphon at Mass: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.”
Speaking to the thousands of the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI noted: “The apostle Paul, in writing to the Christians of Philippi, is clearly thinking of the return of Christ, and is inviting them to rejoice because this is certain.”
“Nonetheless, St. Paul himself, in his letter to the Thessalonians, warns that no one can know the moment of the Lord's coming and he cautions against any alarmism, as if the return of Christ were imminent,” the Pope stated. “So already at that time, the Church, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, increasingly understood that the 'closeness' of God is not a question of space and time, but a question of love: love draws near!”
“Christmas is coming to remind us of this fundamental truth of our faith, and, in front of the Nativity scene, we can taste Christian joy, contemplating in the newborn Jesus the face of God, who out of love drew close to us."
The Holy Father proceeded to bless the “Bambinelli,” the statues of the baby Jesus to be placed in Nativity scenes by the children of Rome.
After the Angelus, Benedict XVI greeted the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present.
“I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today’s Angelus prayer. On this Third Sunday of Advent we are called to rejoice because the Lord is near. As we renew our hope in Jesus and look forward to his coming, may we experience in our lives the deep joy of his salvation. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome, and a blessed Sunday!”