“Each of us – let’s not forget this – has a mission to accomplish,” Pope Francis said today in his Angelus commentary in St. Peter’s Square.
His emphatic reminder came in response to the question asked of John the Baptist in today’s Gospel (Lk 3:10-18). Hearing the words of the Baptist, the crowd as “what should we do.” John had suggestions for various groups:
11He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”
12Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
14Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”
“So, let’s not be afraid to ask the Lord: what should I do? Let us ask him this question repeatedly” the Pope said. “Let us ask ourselves as well: what would be good for me to do for myself and for my brothers and sisters? How can I contribute to this? How can I contribute to the good of the Church, to the good of society?
“The Advent Season is meant for this: to stop and ask ourselves how to prepare for Christmas. We are so busy with all the preparations, with gifts and things that pass. But let us ask ourselves what we should do for Jesus and for others! What should we do?
The Pope concluded his commentary with some suggestions for the faithful to do as Advent continues. He stressed the importance of doing something “concrete.”
“Let’s choose something concrete, even if it is small, that is adapted to our situation in life, and let’s continue doing it to prepare us for this Christmas.,” the Holy Father said. “For example, I can call a person who is alone, visit that elderly person or that person who is ill, do something to serve a poor person, someone in need. Even still: maybe I need to ask forgiveness, grant forgiveness, clarify a situation, pay a debt. Perhaps I have neglected prayer and after so much time has elapsed, it’s time to ask the Lord for forgiveness. Brothers and sisters, let’s find something concrete and do it!”
Following is the Holy Father’s full Angelus commentary, provided by the Vatican:
Dear brothers and sisters, Buongiorno!
The Gospel in today’s Liturgy, the Third Sunday of Advent, presents us with various groups of people – the crowd, the publicans and soldiers – who, touched by John the Baptist’s preaching, ask him: “What then should we do?” (Lk 3:10). What should we do? This is the question they asked. Let’s reflect a little on this question.
It does not stem from a sense of duty. Rather, the heart is touched by the Lord. It is the enthusiasm for His coming that leads them to ask: what should we do? Then John says: “The Lord is near. What should we do?” Let’s give an example: let’s think of a dear one who is coming to visit us. We joyfully and even impatiently await the person. To welcome the person, we will do what needs to be done: we will clean the house, we will prepare the best dinner possible, perhaps a gift… In short, there are things we will do. It is the same with the Lord. The joy of His coming makes us ask: what should we do? But God elevates this question to a higher level: what should I do with my life? What am I called to? What will I become?
By suggesting this question, the Gospel reminds us of something important: life has a task for us. Life is not meaningless; it is not left up to chance. No! It is a gift the Lord grants us, saying to us: discover who you are, and work hard to make the dream that is your life come true! Each of us – let’s not forget this – has a mission to accomplish. So, let’s not be afraid to ask the Lord: what should I do? Let us ask him this question repeatedly. It also recurs in the Bible: in the Acts of the Apostles, several people, hearing Peter who proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection, “were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ ” (2:37). Let us ask ourselves as well: what would be good for me to do for myself and for my brothers and sisters? How can I contribute to this? How can I contribute to the good of the Church, to the good of society? The Advent Season is meant for this: to stop and ask ourselves how to prepare for Christmas. We are so busy with all the preparations, with gifts and things that pass. But let us ask ourselves what we should do for Jesus and for others! What should we do?
After the question, “what should we do?”, the Gospel lists John the Baptist’s responses that are different for each group. In fact, John recommends that those who have two tunics should share with those who have none; to the publicans who collect taxes, he says: “Collect no more than the amount prescribed” (Lk 3:13); to the soldiers: “Do not mistreat or extort money from anyone (cf. v. 14). He directs a specific word to each person that responds to their actual situation in life. This offers us a precious teaching: faith is incarnated in concrete life. It is not an abstract theory. Faith is not an abstract theory, a generalized theory – no! Faith touches us personally and transforms each of our lives. Let us think about the concreteness of our faith. Is my faith abstract, something abstract or concrete? Does it lead me toward serving others, helping out?
And so, in conclusion, let us ask ourselves: what should we do concretely in these days as we draw near to Christmas? How can I do my part? Let’s choose something concrete, even if it is small, that is adapted to our situation in life, and let’s continue doing it to prepare us for this Christmas. For example, I can call a person who is alone, visit that elderly person or that person who is ill, do something to serve a poor person, someone in need. Even still: maybe I need to ask forgiveness, grant forgiveness, clarify a situation, pay a debt. Perhaps I have neglected prayer and after so much time has elapsed, it’s time to ask the Lord for forgiveness. Brothers and sisters, let’s find something concrete and do it! May the Madonna help us, in whose womb God took on flesh.
After the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:
Dear brothers and sisters,
I want to assure you of my prayers for dear Ukraine, for all its Churches and religious communities, and for all its people so that the tensions it is experiencing might be resolved through a serious international dialogue and not with weapons. A statistic I read recently saddens me greatly: more weapons were produced this year than last year. Weapons are not the right path. May the Lord’s Birth bring peace to Ukraine.
I also pray for the victims of the tornado that hit Kentucky and other areas of the United States of America.
And now, allow me to change to Spanish so I can warmly greet the communities of the entire Latin American continent and the Philippines – how many flags from Latin American countries – who have gathered here in Saint Peter’s Square to recite the Rosary in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe and to consecrate themselves to her, congratulations! I congratulate you who, by doing this, have united yourselves to those who from Alaska to Patagonia are celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the true God by whom we live, every 12 December. May the Virgin of Guadalupe and Saint Juan Diego teach us how to always walk together from the peripheries toward the center in communion with the Successor of the Apostles, who are the Bishops, so as to bear good news to everyone. This experience must be repeated over and over again. In this way, God, who is communion, will move us toward conversion and the renewal of the Church and of society, that we need so much in the Americas – the situation in many Latin American countries is very sad – as well as throughout the world. I am happy that through acts of faith, and public witness such as what you are doing today, we begin preparations for the Jubilee of Guadalupe in 2031, and the Jubilee of the Redemption in 2033, we always have to keep looking forward, right? Everyone together – Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!
I also extend best wishes to Caritas Internationalis celebrating its 70th anniversary. It’s a little girl, eh! It needs to grow up and get stronger! Throughout the world, Caritas is the Church’s loving hand outstretched to the poor and most vulnerable, in whom Christ is present. I invite you to carry your service forward with humility and creativity so as to reach the most marginalized and to foster integral development as the antidote to a “throw-away” culture and indifference. In particular, I encourage your international “Together We Campaign”, founded on the strength of the community in promoting the care of creation and the poor. The wounds inflicted on our common home have devastating effects on the least. But communities can contribute toward a necessary ecological conversion. For this reason, I invite you to adhere to Caritas Internationalis’ campaign. And to you, dear friends of Caritas Internationalis, continue your work in streamlining the organization so that the money doesn’t go to the organization but to the poor. Streamline the organization well.
And I greet all of you, people of Rome and pilgrims; especially you, boys and girls who have come with your Baby Jesus figurines to receive the blessing. At the end, I will bless all the Baby Jesus figures. I thank the Roman Oratory Centre, and I ask you to bring my Christmas greetings to your grandparents and all your dear ones.
I greet the faithful of Leiria (Portugal) and those from Saint Aloysius Gonzaga parish in Rome. I greet the children from Civitavecchia who are preparing themselves for First Communion, and the children from Our Lady Star of Evangelization in Rome who are preparing for Confirmation. I greet the Adult Scouts from Rimini and from San Marino-Montefeltro and the group of workers from the school in Sondrio, as well as the people from the villages of Ardea whom I encourage to be dedicated to dialogue for the care of their territory. I also greet the group from Senigallia (Marche).
And I wish all of you a good Sunday. Once again, we salute the Madonna of Guadalupe. Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and arrivederci.