Pope Benedict XVI welcomed the season of Advent during the Angelus prayer on Sunday, remarking on the nature of “expectation” and calling it a “profoundly human” experience.
On the afternoon of Nov. 28, the Pope appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square and addressed the crowds gathered below. He greeted pilgrims several times in different languages.
The Pontiff opened his comments by discussing what he called the “dual nature” of the Advent season. The Church during this time, he said, focuses both on the first coming of Jesus as an infant born of the Virgin Mary and also on “His glorious return, when he will come to judge the living and the dead.”
He described the Church's expectation and reflection on both events as a “profoundly human” experience in which “the faith becomes, so to say, a single thing with our flesh and our heart.”
"Expectation and awaiting represent a dimension that touches our entire individual, family and social existence,” he added, saying that it is “present in many situations, from the smallest and most insignificant to the most important.”
The Pope mentioned the examples of a couple expecting a child, a person waiting for the results of an exam, someone expecting the arrival of a friend from far away, or the anticipation of someone meeting a loved one.
“We could say that man is alive so long as he expects, so long as hope remains alive his heart.”
Pope Benedict continued to say that men and women can be recognized by their expectations, and that “our moral and spiritual 'stature' may be measured by what our hopes are.”
In “this time of preparation for Christmas each of us may ask ourselves: what do I expect?
“This same question can be posed at the level of the family, the community, the nation.
“What do we expect together? What unites our aspirations, what brings us together?” he asked.
The Pope also recalled how the nation of Israel had a strong expectation of the Messiah before Christ's birth, hoping this figure would save them from moral and political slavery.
“But no one could have imagined that the Messiah would be born of a humble girl like Mary, who had been promised in marriage to the good Joseph,” he said. “Neither could she have imagined it; yet in her heart the expectation of the Savior was so great, her faith and hope so ardent, that in her He could find a worthy mother.”
Mary is “the woman of Advent,” the Pope declared, urging those in attendance to “learn from her” in order to “live a daily life with a new spirit, with feelings of profound expectation which only the coming of God can satisfy.”
“There is a mysterious correspondence between the expectation of God and that of Mary, the creature 'full of grace,' completely transparent before the Almighty's plan of love,” he said.