(Vatican Radio) “The Kingdom of God is at hand and is indeed in the middle of us, this is the central message of all Christian mission.” Those were the words of Pope Francis during his Angelus address in St Peter’s Square on the Second Sunday of Advent.
Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s report
He was referring to the Gospel reading of the day in which John the Baptist issues the invitation to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
The Holy Father explained that with these same words Jesus will start his mission in Galilee and it is an announcement that will “bring the disciples on their first missionary experience.”
The kingdom of heaven, said the Pope, is not just a place in the afterlife, but it is the good news that Jesus brings us.
God, Pope Francis continued, “comes to establish his dominion in our history, in our everyday life;” and where it is accepted with faith and humility and love.
But the “condition to become part of this kingdom”, the Holy Father stressed, “ is to make a change in our life, that is to repent.”
The Pope said, “it is to leave the streets, convenient but misleading, the idols of this world: the success at all costs, the power at the expense of the weak, the thirst for wealth, pleasure at any price and instead to open the way for the Lord who comes”.
He does not take away our freedom, Pope Francis underlined, “but gives us true happiness. With the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, it is God himself who has come to dwell among us, to free us from selfishness, from sin and corruption.”
During his address the Holy Father invited the faithful to prepare spiritually for Christmas by examining their consciences and confessing their sins in the sacrament of Penance.
Following the recitation of the Marian Prayer, Pope Francis said, “see you Thursday for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. We pray together, asking her maternal intercession for the conversion of hearts and the gift of peace.”