VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
On this Third Sunday of Advent the liturgy proposes a passage from the Letter of St. James that opens with this exhortation: “Be constant, my brothers, until the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7). It seems to me more important than ever in our days to underscore the importance of constancy and patience, virtues that belonged to the generation of our fathers but which are less popular today in a world that instead exalts change and the capacity always to adapt to new situations. Without taking anything away from these latter, which are also qualities of the human being, Advent calls us to strengthen that interior tenacity, that resistance of the soul that permits us not to despair in waiting for some good thing that is late in coming, but to expect it, indeed, to prepare for its arrival with an active confidence.
“Learn from the farmer,” St. James writes, “he awaits with constancy the precious fruit of the earth until it has received the first and the last rains. You too must be constant, strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near” (James 5:7-8). The comparison with the farmer is quite expressive: He who has sown seeds in the field has before him some months of patient and constant expectation, but he knows that in the meantime the seed goes through its cycle thanks to the autumn and spring rains. The farmer is not a fatalist, but is the model of a mentality that unites faith and reason in a balanced way because, on one hand, he knows the laws of nature and does his work well, and, on the other hand, he trusts in Providence, because certain basic things are not in his hands but in God’s hands. Patience and constancy are precisely the synthesis between human effort and trust in God.
“Strengthen your hearts,” Scripture says. How can we do that? How can we strengthen our hearts, which are already rather fragile, and made more unstable by the culture in which we are immersed? We do not lack help: The Word of God is there. Indeed, while everything passes and changes, the Word of the Lord does not pass. If the vicissitudes of life make us feel lost and every certainty seems to crumble, we have a compass for finding direction, we need not fear being adrift. And here the model that is offered to us by the prophets, that is, the model of those persons whom God called to speak in his name. The prophet finds his joy and his strength in the power of the Lord’s Word and, while men often seek happiness along paths that turn out to be mistaken, he announces the true hope, the one that doesn’t delude because it is founded on the fidelity of God. Every Christian, in virtue of his baptism, has received the prophetic dignity. May every Christian rediscover it and develop it with an assiduous listening to the Divine Word. May the Virgin Mary, whom the Gospel calls blessed because she believed that the Lord’s words would be accomplished (cf. Luke 1:45), obtain this for us.