By Vatican News staff writer
Reflecting on the Gospel reading for this First Sunday of Advent, which speaks to us about the Lord’s coming at the end of time, Pope Francis says we are invited to be hopeful as the Lord comes to save us and “we await Him with joy”, even in the midst of life’s trials and tribulations. The Lord invites us to “stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand”.
Be vigilant at all times and pray
At the same time, the Pope recognized the challenge of remaining focused on our redemption when day-to-day challenges and suffering can overwhelm us. He recalled the words of Jesus that we must not fall asleep and “be vigilant at all times and pray”. This vigilance is a key aspect of Christian life, he noted, and it requires that we remain alert and avoid distraction from what is really important in life. Vigilance means keeping our hearts on guard from becoming lazy or “sleepy Christians” lacking spiritual dynamism and intensity in prayer. We can fall into apathy, he warned, and become indifferent to all except what is comfortable for us.
“With all vigilance guard your heart”
Vigilance means not letting our daily life become just a routine, or becoming preoccupied only with worldy concerns, the Pope went on to say, encouraging us to reflect on what weighs on our own spirit causing us to fall into the “lazy chair”, mediocrity and succumb to vices. He also suggested we look at the burdens that weigh on the shoulders of those around us and ask ourselves if we are aware of them and doing something about it. This all will help us avoid falling into apathy, something he described as a negative spirit that “traps the soul” and takes away its joy. As the Book of Proverbs says, “With all vigilance guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life”.
Come, Lord Jesus
“The secret to being vigilant is prayer,” the Pope stressed, saying that prayer always keeps the lamp of our heart lit, bringing us back to God, reawakening the soul from slumber and focusing it “on what matters, on the purpose of existence”. We must never neglect prayer, he underscored, and to avoid that we can consider prayer of the heart, repeating brief invocations. The Pope suggested that during Advent we make a habit of saying “Come, Lord Jesus” through the day. He invited everyone in St. Peter’s Square to repeat this invocation three times.
In conclusion, he prayed that the Blessed Mother, who “awaited the Lord with a vigilant heart”, may accompany us in a special way throughout Advent.