Advent is time to identify sin, help the poor, see beauty, pope says

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Advent is a time to be watchful and
alert to the ways one strays from God’s path, but also to signs of his presence
in other people and in the beauty of the world, Pope Francis said.

Reciting the Angelus prayer Dec. 3, the first Sunday of
Advent, Pope Francis told people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, “Being watchful
and alert are the prerequisites for not continuing ‘to wander far from the
Lord’s path,’ lost in our sins and infidelities; being watchful and alert are
the conditions for allowing God to break into our existence, to give it meaning
and value with his presence full of goodness and tenderness.”

Like the ancient Israelites who wandered in the desert, the
pope said, “we, too, often find ourselves in a situation of infidelity to
the Lord’s call; he indicates the right path, the path of faith, the path of
love, but we look for happiness elsewhere.”

Advent gives people time to review the paths they have taken
and to turn back to the ways of God, he said.

It is a time for paying attention to the needs of others,
“trying to counter the indifference and cruelty” present in the
world, the pope said. But it is also a time to “rejoice in the treasures
of beauty that also exist and should be protected.”

“It is a matter of having an understanding gaze to
recognize both the misery and poverty of individuals and societies, but also to
recognize the riches hidden in the little things of daily life precisely where
God has put them,” he said.

Pope Francis, who had returned to the Vatican late the night
before after a six-day trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, also used his midday
address as an opportunity to thank everyone who had prayed for the trip’s
success and everyone who had a hand in organizing it.

The pope said he carried with him “the memory of so
many faces tried by life, but still noble and smiling. I carry them in my heart
and in my prayers.”

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