In the Vatican Basilica on December 2, the Pope presided at the celebration of the first Vespers of the first Sunday of Advent.
In his homily, the Holy Father indicated how "at the beginning of a new annual cycle, the liturgy invites the Church to renew her announcement to all people, encapsulating it in these words, 'God is coming'."
"The one true God, 'the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob,' is not a God Who remains in heaven, disinterested in our history," said the Pope. "He is the God Who comes. He is a Father Who never ceases to think of us and, in absolute respect for our freedom, wishes to meet us and visit us; He wants to come, to dwell among us, to stay with us. His 'coming' arises from His will to free us from evil and from death, from everything that prevents our true freedom. God comes to save us."
Benedict XVI then pointed out that "the liturgy of Advent highlights how the Church gives voice to the yearning for God so profoundly inscribed in the history of humanity; a yearning that is, unfortunately, often stifled or diverted along false paths."
With "prayer and good works," said the Holy Father, the Christian community "can hasten the last coming, helping humanity to go out towards the Lord Who comes". In this context, Advent must be lived "in communion with all those people — and thanks be to God, they are many — who hope for a more just and fraternal world.
"In this commitment to justice," he added, "it is possible that men and women of all nationalities and cultures, believers and non-believers, find themselves together to some degree. Indeed, all of them, though for different reasons, are animated by a shared longing for a future of justice and peace."
The Pope underlined how "peace is the goal to which all of humanity aspires. For believers, 'peace' is one of the most beautiful names of God, Who wishes for understanding among all His children, something I had the opportunity to recall also during my pilgrimage of recent days to Turkey."
"Let us then," he concluded, "begin this new Advent — a time given to us by the Lord of time — by reawakening in our hearts the expectation of the God Who comes, and the hope that His Name be hallowed, that His Kingdom of justice and peace may come, that His will be done, on earth as in heaven."