Pope calls third Sunday in Advent an invitation to joy

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis at the Sunday Angelus blessed the “Bambinelli” and said this third Sunday of Advent invites us to be joyful.

The Third Sunday of Advent has for many years been the day when the children of Rome bring the Baby Jesus statues from their Nativity scenes to St. Peter’s Square to be blessed by the Pope during the Angelus. The day is affectionately known as “Bambinelli Sunday.”

The theme chosen by the Roman Oratory Centre for this traditional appointment with Pope Francis on Sunday was “All the joy in a manger”.

Speaking from the window of his studio in the Apostolic Palace, the pope told the children wrapped up against the winter chill, that “when you gather in your homes in prayer before the manger, looking at the Child Jesus, you will feel amazement at the great mystery of God made man; and the Holy Spirit will give your heart the humility, tenderness and goodness of Jesus. This is the true Christmas! May this be so for you and for your families.”

Before the recitation of the Marian Prayer, Pope Francis said the liturgy on this third Sunday of Advent invites us to be joyful. The inhabitants of Jerusalem are called to rejoice because the Lord has lifted his condemnation.

“Consequently, there is no longer any reason for sadness or discouragement for the people, but everything leads to joyful gratitude to God, who always wants to redeem and save those he loves,” the pope continued.

Delving into the readings of the day, the pontiff noted that the appeal of the prophet Zephaniah — who says, ‘He will rejoice for you, he will renew you with his love, he will exult for you with cries of joy’ —  “is particularly appropriate at this time as we prepare for Christmas”, because, the pontiff explained,  “it applies to Jesus, the Emmanuel, the God who is with us: his presence is the source of joy.”

St. Paul, Pope Francis commented, “also exhorts us today not to be anxious for anything, but in every circumstance to present to God our requests, our needs, our concerns with prayers and supplications. The awareness that in difficulties we can always turn to the Lord, and that He never rejects our invocations, is a great reason for joy”, Pope Francis said. “No worry, no fear will ever be able to take away from us the serenity that comes from knowing that God guides our lives lovingly, always. Even in the midst of problems and suffering, this certainty nourishes hope and courage.”

Pope Francis stressed this season of Advent is one of conversion, and in order to accept the Lord’s invitation to joy, he said,  we need to be asking ourselves at this time “what should I do”.

Parishes in the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., also participated in Bambinelli Sunday.

Father Raymond Carlo, pastor of Corpus Christi Church in Lexington, said he invites the families of the parish, especially the children, to bring in their Christ child from their Nativity and blesses them with the same blessing that the pope uses in Rome.

“I feel that we need this tradition now more than ever to keep the focus on Jesus. There are millions and millions of Americans who come to this Christmas without Christ,” Father Carlo said. “This simple blessing enhances the joy that we celebrate on Gaudete Sunday, which is ‘rejoice Sunday!’ That is the meaning of the rose candle on our Advent wreaths.”

Following the Angelus, the pope spoke about the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Ordered and Regular Migration which took place in Marrakech, Morocco, during the week. Pope Francis expressed the hope that this instrument, “will be able to work with responsibility, solidarity and compassion towards those who, for various reasons, have left their country.”

Vatican News

Top photo, Vatican Media: Pope Francis blesses the “Bambinelli” in St Peter’s Square.

Provided: Father Raymond Carlos blesses figurines of the Christ Child during Mass at Corpus Christi Church in Lexington on Gaudette Sunday.