In his catechesis for the first Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis, recovering from an inflammation of the lungs, emphasized the importance of vigilance for Christians. During his Sunday Angelus on December 3, 2023, the Pope explained that vigilance should not be mistaken for living in fear, but rather as an expression of loving anticipation for the arrival of Jesus.
Drawing from the Gospel passage of the day, in which Jesus advises his followers to “keep watch,” Pope Francis noted that the virtue of vigilance should not be driven by the fear of imminent punishment. Instead, it should stem from a close and affectionate relationship with Jesus, motivating believers to eagerly prepare themselves for his return.
The Pope shared a parable from the Bible that portrays servants eagerly awaiting their master’s arrival. He emphasized that these servants do not fear their master, but rather joyfully anticipate his coming out of love. They diligently prepare to warmly and joyfully welcome him, much like a happy family joyfully awaiting a special reunion.
Reflecting on this parable, Pope Francis encouraged believers to cultivate an expectation filled with affection, to prepare themselves to welcome Jesus at Christmas. He urged the faithful to use Advent as an opportunity to share with their brothers and sisters in need, offering not just material help but also a listening ear and valuable time.
“Dear friends, let us cultivate this expectation without getting distracted by trivial matters or complaining all the time. Instead, let us keep our hearts alert, eager for Him, awake and ready, impatient to meet Him,” read the Pope’s message.
Advent, the season leading up to Christmas, encompasses the four Sundays (and weekdays) of anticipation. Pope Francis highlighted how Advent provides an opportunity for Christians to focus their attention on the Joyful Mysteries in the Rosary. Through imagination and devotion, believers can reflect on the profound faith of Joseph, the selfless care of Our Lady, and the indescribable mystery of God’s love revealed through the incarnation.
As Christians across the globe enter the Advent season, Pope Francis encourages them to embrace a vigilant spirit, nourishing their love for Jesus and their fellow human beings. By keeping their hearts ready, believers can eagerly anticipate the coming of Christ with joyful anticipation and prepare to share His love with others in meaningful ways.