VATICAN CITY, 28 NOV 2009 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica this evening, Benedict XVI presided at first Vespers for the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new liturgical year for the Church.
In his homily the Pope reflected upon the meaning of the word Advent which "Christians used", he said, "to express their relationship with Jesus. ... The meaning of the expression advent also includes that of 'vistatio', ... a visit, which in this case means a visit from God: He enters my life and wishes to address Himself to me".
"In daily life we all know the experience of having little time for the Lord, and little time for ourselves. We end up becoming absorbed by 'doing'. Is it not often true that it is activity itself that possesses us, society with its multiple distractions that monopolises our attention? Is it not true that we dedicate a lot of time to entertainment and leisure activities of various kinds?"
"Advent, this potent liturgical period we are entering, invites us to remain silent as we come to appreciate a presence. It is an invitation to understand that the individual events of the day are signs God addresses to us, signs of the care He has for each of us. How often does God make us aware of some aspect of His love! To maintain what we might call an 'inner diary' of this love would be a beautiful and rewarding task in our lives. Advent invites us and encourages us to contemplate the living Lord. Should not the certainty of His presence help us to see the world with different eyes?"
The Holy Father went on: "Another fundamental aspect of Advent is that of waiting: a wait that is, at the same time, a hope. ... Hope marks the journey of humankind, but for Christians it is enlivened by a certainty: the Lord is present in the events of our lives, He accompanies us and will one day dry our tears. One not-far-distant day everything will reach fulfilment in the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of justice and peace.
"Yet", he added, "there are many different ways to wait. If the present time is not filled with meaning, the wait risks becoming unbearable. If we await something, but at this moment have nothing - in other words, if the present is empty - then every passing instant seems exaggeratedly long and the wait becomes an over-heavy burden because the future remains too uncertain. When, on the other hand, time has meaning and at every instant we perceive something specific and valid, then the joy of waiting makes the present richer".
The Holy Father encouraged the faithful "intensely to live the present, where we already obtain the gifts of the Lord. Let us live projected towards the future, a future charged with hope". The Messiah, "coming among us, brought us and continues to bring us the gift of His love and His salvation. He is present among us and speaks to us in many ways: in Sacred Scripture, in the liturgical year, in the saints, in the events of daily life, in all creation, which changes its appearance depending upon whether [we see Him] behind it or whether [we see it] shrouded in the fog of an uncertain origin and uncertain future".
"We in our turn", Pope Benedict concluded, "can address Him, present Him the sufferings that afflict us, the impatience and the questions that arise in our hearts. We are certain that He always listens to us! And if Jesus is present, then there can be no meaningless or empty time. If He is present we can continue to hope, even when others can no longer offer us their support, even when the present becomes burdensome".
HML/ADVENT/... VIS 091130 (640)