Advent season is a time of conversion and opportunity to make space in one’s heart for Christ to come and fill it with joy, Pope Francis said yesterday. Source: CNA.
“Advent, a time of grace, tells us that it is not enough to believe in God: it is necessary to purify our faith every day,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address.
“It is a matter of preparing to welcome – not a fairy-tale character – but the God who calls us, involves us, and before whom a choice is imposed,” he said in St Peter’s Square.
Italian children gathered in St Peter’s Square before the Angelus prayer, shouted and cheered as they awaited the papal blessing of their Nativity scene figurines of the infant Jesus, called Bambinelli in Italian.
This 50-year-old Vatican tradition of the blessing the infant Jesus figurines on Gaudete Sunday began in 1969 with St Pope Paul VI at the initiative of the Roman Oratori Centre. The tradition has since spread throughout the world each year on the third Sunday of Advent.
“I greet you, dear children, who have come with the statues of the child Jesus for your nativity scenes. I cordially bless you,” Francis said.
Pope Francis reminded the children of the meaning of the nativity scene by quoting a passage of his apostolic letter, Admirabile Signum, published on the first day of Advent this year:
“The nativity scene is like a living Gospel,” he said. “As we contemplate the Christmas story, we are invited to set out on a spiritual journey, drawn by the humility of the God who became man in order to encounter every man and woman. We come to realise that so great is his love for us that he became one of us, so that we in turn might become one with him.”
The Pope said that the child Jesus in the nativity scene has “the face of our most needy brothers and sisters.”
“The poor are a privileged part of this mystery; often they are the first to recognise God’s presence in our midst,” he said.
Pope Francis at Angelus blesses baby Jesus statues (Vatican News)