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Pope at Angelus: Christmas invites us to offer help and joy

by Vatican News

At the Sunday Angelus on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis recalls how Mary “arose and went with haste” to visit and assist her relative Elizabeth. In a similar way, he says we can reach out in generosity towards others and bring the joy of Jesus, as Mary did with Elizabeth.

Pope Francis greeted pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Square on this Fourth Sunday of Advent and encouraged them to “arise and to go in haste towards Christmas.” He was referring to the day’s Gospel reading which recounts when Mary went to visit Elizabeth, who was also pregnant, as a response to an inner impulse calling her to be close and help her. He said in this way Mary gave Elizabeth “the joy of Jesus, the joy she carried in her heart and in her womb”, proclaimed in her Magnificat.

Arise and go in haste

The Pope then reflected on two dimensions of this calling: “to arise” and “to go in haste”. The verb “to arise” reflects how Mary took the initiative to move forward and not get bogged down with worries surrounding her unexpected pregnancy that risked exposing her to misunderstanding or even punishment, or also the difficulties ahead on how to manage and fully comprehend this incredible experience. These challenges did not overcome or paralyze her, the Pope observed, and she put her trust in God and boldly went to reach out to her relative Elizabeth to accompany and help her who was advanced in years and with child. 

Reach out to others

The Pope said we too should try to step out of our own sphere of challenges, problems, negative thoughts, and reach out to others to be of help, just as Mary did. We could visit with an elderly person, the lonely, call someone, or offer any other act of charity. He noted, God is great and always there to help us if “we reach out to Him”.

Living and expressing joy

The second phrase, “to go in haste”, the Pope said means living our daily lives with joy, “looking ahead with confidence,” despite the temptation to do otherwise or be immobile. Mary proceeded with a “step” of one whose “whose heart and life are full of God, full of his joy”, the Pope noted, and so also should we ask ourselves how our own “step” is, and whether we move forward with hope, energy and perserverance. If we get dragged down by melancholy, he pointed out, we will not bring God to anyone. The Pope encouraged everyone to be positive, despite our daily difficulties, and even cultivate a healthy sense of humour, adding that the first act of charity we can do is to offer “a serene and smiling face”, to bring the “joy of Jesus, as Mary did with Elizabeth.”

In conclusion, he prayed that the Blessed Mother may help us “to arise and to go in haste towards Christmas!”

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