Pope reminds faithful of ‘closeness of God’ as Advent season starts

Pope Francis reminded the faithful of “the closeness of God who came down to dwell in our midst” in his homily during the celebration of the first Sunday of Advent on Nov. 29.

The pontiff said the Season of Advent, which is observed for four Sundays before Christmas, is both a time of “God’s closeness and our watchfulness.”

Earlier on Sunday morning, Pope Francis offered Mass with 11 of the new cardinals created at the ordinary public consistory the day before.

In his homily, he warned of what he described as the dangers of mediocrity, lukewarmness, and indifference in Christian life.

“Without making an effort to love God daily and awaiting the newness he constantly brings, we become mediocre, lukewarm, worldly,” said the pope.

“This slowly eats away at our faith, for faith is the very opposite of mediocrity: it is ardent desire for God, a bold effort to change, the courage to love, constant progress,” he said.

Pope Francis said prayer and charity are antidotes to mediocrity and indifference.

In his message to the faithful during Sunday Angelus, the pontiff said Advent is also “a time of expectation and a time of hope.”

“For a Christian the most important thing is the continuous encounter with the Lord, being with the Lord,” he said.

The pope, however, said that the Lord comes every day, “so that, with His grace, we might accomplish good in our own lives and in the lives of others.”

“He comes every day to visit His people, to visit every man and woman who receives Him in the Word, in the Sacraments, in their brothers and sisters,” said Pope Francis.

In his address, the pontiff noted the “highs and lows,” “lights and shadows” that people experience especially during the pandemic.

“The situation we are living in, marked by the pandemic, generates worry, fear and discouragement in many people; we run the risk of falling into pessimism, the risk of falling into closure and apathy,” he said.

“How should we react in the face of all this?”

The pope quoted the Psalm: “Our soul waits for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.”

“That is, the soul awaiting, confidently waiting for the Lord, allows us to find comfort and courage in the dark moments of our lives,” he said, adding that what gives rise to courage is “hope.”

“Hope does not disappoint, that virtue that leads us ahead, looking at the encounter with the Lord,” he said.

He invited everyone to live the season of hope and preparation with “great sobriety” and simple moments of family prayer.

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