Having returned from his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of St. Lawrence Outside-the-Walls, Pope Benedict XVI prayed the Sunday Angelus with 15,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. In his words to the faithful, the Pope challenged them to be mindful of how the Lord comes into their lives and to make room for him.
Before the praying the Angelus, he noted the beginning, with the First Sunday of Advent, of a new liturgical year. "All of us say that 'we don't have time' because the rhythm of daily life has become, for us, frantic...God gives us his time. We have always little time; especially for the Lord we do not know or, sometimes, do not want to find. Well, God has time for us! This is the first thing that the beginning of the liturgical year makes us rediscover with always new marvel.”
Pope Benedict then explained that God gives us his time “because he entered into history with his word and his works of salvation to open it to the eternal, to make it become part of the history of the covenant. Time is already in itself a sign of God's love: a gift that like every other thing, man is in a position to value or, to spoil; to understand, or to neglect with obtuse superficiality."
The Pontiff suggested three great "hinges" of time, which scan the history of salvation: at the beginning, Creation; at the middle, the Incarnation-Redemption and at the end, "parusia," the final coming that also includes universal judgment.
"These three moments," he continued, "are not understood simply in chronological succession. In fact, creation is at the origin of all, but it also continues and is carried throughout the entire cosmos, until the end of time. So too the Incarnation-Redemption, which occurred at a given historical moment, the period of Jesus' passage on earth, still extends its radius to all time, before and after. And at their time, the final coming and last judgment, which on the Cross of Christ had a decisive advance, exercise their influence over the conduct of men of every age."
The liturgical season of Advent celebrates the coming of God in two moments, the Holy Father explained."First it invites us to reawaken the expectation of the glorious return of Christ; then, as Christmas approaches, it calls upon us to welcome the Word made flesh for our salvation.
“But the Lord comes into our lives all the time,” Pope Benedict reminded the faithful.Turning to today’s Gospel reading, he said, “Jesus' appeal therefore comes very much at the right time and in this first Sunday it is again proposed with force: 'Be watchful!' Jesus directed these words to his disciples, but also to 'everybody else' because each one will be called to answer for his existence at a time known only to God. This entails the right detachment from earthly things, sincere repentance for one's own errors, active charity towards one's fellow man and especially a humble and trusting faith in the hands of God, our tender and merciful Father."
Benedict XVI concluded, "The icon of Advent is the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus. We invoke her to help also us to become a prolongation of humanity for the Lord who comes."