Vatican City, Dec 7, 2014 / 08:04 am
In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis asked that during Advent the faithful prepare for the Lord's coming by being open to God's consolation, which we must receive personally before giving to others.
"It is he who brings us to the source of every true consolation, that is, to the Father. And this is conversion. Please, let yourselves be consoled by the Lord! Let yourselves be consoled by the Lord!" the Pope told those present in St. Peter's Square for his Dec. 7 address.
He referred to the day's first reading, taken from the book of Isaiah, in which the prophet offers the people a message of mercy, consolation and hope.
When Isaiah tells the people "Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God," he is opening the doors of consolation and freedom to the people of Israel, who had been in exile and can now look forward to the future, and their return home, with hope.
"And this is the reason for the invitation to let ourselves be consoled by the Lord…Isaiah addresses the people who have passed through a dark time, who have undergone a very hard trial; but now the time of consolation has come," the Roman Pontiff noted.
The Lord will now turn their sadness and fear into joy with the freedom and salvation he brings, and he does this with the gentle care and tenderness of a shepherd who cares for his flock, the Pope said.
"He will give unity and security to the flock, they will graze, the scattered sheep will be gathered safely, he will pay special attention to the weakest and most fragile," he observed, explaining that this is the same attitude that God has with each one of us.
Pope Francis then noted that because God looks at each person this way, we are called to follow Isaiah's invitation to spread the Lord's message of hope and consolation to all people throughout the world.
"But we cannot be messengers of the consolation of God if we do not experience first the joy of being consoled and loved by him," he said, observing that we experience this love through reading the Bible, silent prayer, and by going to confession.
The Roman Pontiff asked that each one take Isaiah's words to heart, because "today there is a need for people who are witnesses of the mercy and tenderness of the Lord, which shakes up those who are resigned, revives the discouraged (and) ignites the fire of hope."
Many people are currently in desperate need of this message of consolation, the Bishop of Rome observed, especially those oppressed by suffering, injustice and tyranny, as well as those enslaved by power, success, money and worldliness.
"Poor things, they have a false consolation, they do not have the true consolation of the Lord!" the Pope said, explaining that Christians can give it to them because they themselves receive it from Christ.
Isaiah's prophesy is like "a balm on our wounds" and serves as a motivation to work diligently in preparing for the coming of the Lord, who will tear down the walls of evil and iron-out the wrinkles caused by vanity and pride.
However, the Roman Pontiff noted that many times people are afraid of being consoled by the Lord, and prefer to remain in sadness and desolation, where it feels safer.
"Do you know why? Because in sadness, we feel almost like the protagonists. Instead, in consolation, the Holy Spirit is the protagonist, it is He who consoles us; it is He who gives us the courage to come out of ourselves."
Pope Francis then asked that all remain open to the consolation of the Lord, and pointed to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the avenue that God himself chose and prepared to come into the world.
"Let us entrust to her the expectation of salvation and peace for all men and women of our time," he prayed, and led pilgrims in the traditional Marian prayer.