.- Presiding at the first prayer service for the season of Advent, Pope Benedict XVI recalled that God is a God who comes among man to save him from evil and death. The Holy Father celebrated first Vespers on Saturday evening at St. Peter’s Basilica.
“At the beginning of a new annual cycle,” the Pope began, “the liturgy invites the Church to renew her announcement to all people, encapsulating it in these words, 'God is coming'."
"The one true God, 'the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob,' is not a God Who remains in heaven, disinterested in our history," said the Pope. "He is the God-Who-comes. He is a Father Who never ceases to think of us and, in absolute respect for our freedom, wishes to meet us and visit us; He wants to come, to dwell among us, to stay with us,” Pope Benedict continued.
“His 'coming' arises from His will to free us from evil and from death, from everything that prevents our true freedom. God comes to save us."
The Pope also noted how the Church’s liturgy during the Advent season calls mankind to put aside “false paths” and return to the path of God.
With "prayer and good works," said the Holy Father, the Christian community "can hasten the last coming, helping humanity to go out towards the Lord Who comes".
In this context, Advent must be lived "in communion with all those people - and thanks be to God, they are many - who hope for a more just and fraternal world,” he said.
"In this commitment to justice," he added, "it is possible that men and women of all nationalities and cultures, believers and non-believers, find themselves together to some degree. Indeed, all of them, though for different reasons, are animated by a shared longing for a future of justice and peace."
"Peace is the goal to which all of humanity aspires,” Pope Benedict emphasized. “For believers, 'peace' is one of the most beautiful names of God, Who wishes for understanding among all His children, something I had the opportunity to recall also during my pilgrimage of recent days to Turkey."
Let us then," he concluded, "begin this new Advent - a time given to us by the Lord of time - by reawakening in our hearts the expectation of the God-Who-comes, and the hope that His Name be hallowed, that His Kingdom of justice and peace may come, that His will be done, on earth as in heaven."