From the balcony of his study in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the source of hope that Christians find in Advent. This true hope comes from Jesus, who liberates man from more than just political and social bondage; he creates a new humanity.
Advent, the Pope explained, "echoes a message full of hope, which simultaneously invites us to raise our eyes to the last horizon and to recognize in the present the signs of God-with-us."
The Holy Father proceeded to cite the Book of Isaiah, which announces Israel's liberation: "Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins."
During Advent the Lord "speaks to the heart of his People and to all of humanity so as to proclaim salvation," Benedict XVI said. To receive this message, we must follow the example of John the Baptist who heeded the call of Isaiah: "Prepare the way of the LORD!"
Today, Pope Benedict said, the Church raises her voice as the Baptist did. "For populations worn out by misery and hunger, for the crowds of refugees, for those who suffer grave and systematic violations of their rights, the Church places herself like a sentinel on the high mountain of faith and pronounces: 'Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord God.'"
This prophetic pronouncement by Isaiah is realized in Jesus Christ, the Holy Father said.
"He, with his preaching and then, with his death and resurrection, has brought to fulfillment the ancient promises, revealing a more profound and universal perspective," Benedict XVI explained. "He began an exodus no longer only earthly, historical, and provisional, but radical and definitive: the passage from the reign of evil to the reign of God, from the dominion of sin and death to that of love and life."
Christian hope, the Pope explained, "is more than the legitimate expectation of social and political liberation. That which Jesus began is a new humanity, one which simultaneously comes 'from God' and buds on this earth, in the measure in which it is left to fecundate by the Spirit of the Lord."
Believe in God, in his design of salvation, and at the same time, commit yourself to the construction of his Kingdom, the Holy Father challenged his flock.
"Justice and peace, in fact, are a gift of God, but require men and women who are 'good earth,' ready to gather the good seed of his Word."
"The first fruit of this new humanity is Jesus, Son of God and son of Mary," Benedict XVI said. "She, the Virgin Mary, is the 'way' by which God himself is prepared to enter the world. With all her humility, Mary walks at the head of the new Israel in exodus from every exile, oppression, and moral and material bondage toward a 'new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.'"
The Pope concluded by praying: "To her maternal intercession we entrust our expectation of peace and salvation of men of our time."