Sunday, December 09, 2007
Angelus: fruits of love are fruits of repentance
AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito
~translation via Papa Ratzinger Forum
Dear brothers and sisters!
Yesterday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the liturgy invited us to turn our eyes to Mary, Mother of Jesus and our mother, Star of Hope for every man.
Today, the second Sunday of Advent, it presents to us the austere figure of the Precursor, whom the evangelist Matthew introduces this way: In those days, "John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea, saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!'" (Mt 3,1-2).
His mission was to prepare the way for the Messiah, calling on the people of Israel to repent of their sins and to correct every iniquity.
With demanding words, John the Baptist announced the coming judgment: "Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire" (Mt 3,10).
He warned above all against the hypocrisy of whoever felt sure of himself simply because he belonged to the chosen people: Before God, he said, no one can boast of any entitlement, but must "produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance" (Mt 3,8).
As the Advent journey continues, as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the Nativity of Christ, this call of John the Baptist to repentance resounds in our communities. It is an urgent invitation to open our heart to welcome the Son of God who comes to our midst in order to make divine justice manifest.
The Father, writes the evangelist John, does not judge anyone, but has entrusted to the Son the power to judge because he is the Son of Man (cfr Jn 5,22-27).
It is today, in the present, that our future destiny is in play - it is with our concrete behavior in this life that we decide our eternal fate. In the sunset of our days on earth, at the moment of death, we will be judged on the basis of our similarity or lack of it to the Baby born in the humble grotto of Bethlehem, because he is the measure that God has given mankind.
The heavenly Father, who manifested his merciful love for us in the birth of his Only-Begotten Son, calls us to follow his steps, making of our existence, as he did, a gift of love.
The fruits of love are those worthy 'fruits of repentance' that St. John the Baptist referred to, when he addressed stinging words to the Pharisees and Sadducees among the crowds who gathered around him for baptism.
Through the Gospel, John the Baptist continues to speak through the centuries, to every generation. His clear and harsh words are ever more salutary for us, men and women of our time, in whom even the way we live and perceive Christmas too often reflects, unfortunately, a materialistic mentality.
The 'voice' of the great prophet calls on us to prepare the way for the Lord in the deserts of today, exterior and interior deserts, thirsting for the living water that Jesus is.
May the Virgin Mary guide us to a true repentance from the heart so we may carry out the choices necessary to place our thoughts in harmony with the Gospel.