On New Year’s Eve, Pope Francis calls listening an act of love

Vatican City, Dec 31, 2019 / 10:35 am (CNA).- It is an act of love to spend time with others, to listen to them and their needs, and to try to see them as Christ sees them, Pope Francis said on New Year’s Eve.

“We are called to meet others and listen to their life, their cry for help,” he said Dec. 31. “Listening is already an act of love!”

In his homily during vespers in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope said “having time for others, dialoguing, recognizing with a contemplative gaze the presence and action of God in their lives, witnessing the new life of the Gospel with deeds rather than words, is truly a service of love which changes reality.”

He also said, addressing residents of Rome in particular, that doing so will bring “new air” to the city and to the Church.

And no one, Francis argued, should feel afraid or think they are not enough to fulfill this important mission.

“Let us remember: God does not choose us because of our ‘skill,’ but precisely because we are and we feel small,” he said.

First Vespers was prayed at the Vatican in anticipation of the Jan. 1 Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The prayer was followed by Eucharistic adoration and benediction, and by the singing of the “Te Deum,” a Latin hymn of thanksgiving from the early Church.

After the service, the pope visited the nativity in St. Peter’s Square, greeting those gathered nearby.

Pope Francis said that with the praise of the “Te Deum,” the Church thanks God “for his grace that has sustained us in this year.”

He directed his homily at Catholics of Rome, encouraging them to bring God’s Word to the city through encounters and relationships with its inhabitants.

Rome is a complicated city with many problems, such as corruption and inequalities, he acknowledged, but “Rome is a city where God sends his Word, which, through the Spirit, nestles in the hearts of its inhabitants and pushes them to believe, to hope in spite of everything, to love by fighting for the good of all.”

“I wish tonight that our gaze on the city of Rome would take things from the point of view of the gaze of God,” he stated.

Francis spoke about Jesus’ birth in the small village of Bethlehem and his early life in Nazareth, “a town never mentioned in scripture except to say: ‘can anything good come out of Nazareth?’”

Even in death, Jesus was “discarded by the great city, by Jerusalem,” the pope argued, because his crucifixion took place outside the city’s walls.

Pope Francis said: “God’s decision is clear: to reveal his love he chooses the small city and the despised city.”

“Indeed, when God wants to make all things new through his Son, he does not start from the temple, but from the womb of a small and poor woman of his People,” he continued, noting that “this choice of God is extraordinary!”

History did not change through the powerful men of civil and religious institutions, he added, “but starting from the women of the periphery of the empire, like Mary, and from their infertile wombs, like that of Elizabeth.”

And Mary, who stood sorrowfully under the cross at Christ’s death, extends “her motherhood to all men. The Mother of God is the Mother of the Church and her maternal tenderness reaches all men,” he said.

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