.- Opening the season of Advent on Saturday by praying Vespers, Pope Benedict XVI said that the cry of the Church, "Come Lord Jesus," is a cry for the Lord to come "not as some beautiful decoration to a world already saved, but as the only way of liberation from mortal danger."
At 5:00 p.m. in St. Peterâs Basilica on Saturday, Benedict XVI presided at first Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent. The Popeâs homily focused on Advent as the spiritual season of hope "par excellence."
"During that time," the Holy Father said, "the entire Church is called to become hope, for herself and for the world. ... All the people of God resume their journey, attracted by this mystery: that our God is the 'God Who comes' and calls us to come out and meet Him, ... first and foremost in that universal form of hope and expectation which is prayer."
Calling the Psalms the "most exalted form of prayer," quoted from Psalm 141: âI call upon You, O Lord; come quickly to me.â This, he said, "is the cry of a person who senses great danger. But it is also the cry of the Church among the many perils that surround her and threaten her sanctity ...which must be conserved for the coming of the Lord."
This cry for the Lord to come speedily can be heard from "all the just, of all those who wish to resist evil and the enticements of iniquitous wellbeing, of pleasures offensive to human dignity and to the condition of the poor," the Holy Father said.
In praying the Psalms, "the Church relives the grace of this compassion, of this 'coming' of the Son of God into human anguish until touching its very depths. The cry of hope of Advent expresses ... all the gravity of our condition, our extreme need for salvation."
Contrary to those who believe that the world is not in need of salvation or can be saved by man on his own power, Pope Benedict underscored this deep need for salvation by saying that "we await the Lord not as some beautiful decoration to a world already saved, but as the only way of liberation from mortal danger."
Referring again to Psalms 141 and 142, which form part of today's liturgy, Benedict XVI pointed out that "they guard us from any temptation to evade and flee reality, they protect us from a false hope which could perhaps seek to enter Advent and so make us proceed towards Christmas forgetting the drama of our individual and community existence."
The Holy Father brought his homily to a close by pointing Christians to "a reliable hope, one that does not deceive," which can only be found in a "Christ incarnate, crucified and risen."