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For Second Sunday of Advent

"Church-Building Is a Sign of Church-Community"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday to the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square to recite the midday Angelus.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This morning I had the joy of dedicating a new parish church to Mary Star of Evangelization, in Rome's neighborhood of North Torrino. It is an event that, though it refers in itself to that neighborhood, acquires a symbolic meaning in the liturgical season of Advent, while we prepare to celebrate the Lord's Nativity.

In these days the liturgy reminds us constantly that "God comes" to visit his people, to dwell in the midst of men and to form with them a communion of love and life, that is, a family. John's Gospel expresses thus the mystery of the Incarnation: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us"; literally, "he made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14). Does not the building of a church amid the houses of a village or neighborhood of a city evoke perhaps this great gift and mystery?

The church-building is a concrete sign of the Church-community, made up of the "living stones," which are the believers, an image so loved by the apostles. St. Peter (2:4-5) and St. Paul (Ephesians 2:20-22), highlight how the "cornerstone" of this spiritual temple is Christ and that, united to him and very compact, we are also called to participate in the building of this living temple.

Therefore, though it is God who takes the initiative of coming to dwell in the midst of men, and he is always the main architect of this plan, it is also true that he does not will to carry it out without our active cooperation. Therefore, to prepare for Christmas means to commit oneself to build "God's dwelling with men." No one is excluded; every one can and must contribute so that this house of communion will be more spacious and beautiful.

At the end of time, it will be completed and will be the "heavenly Jerusalem": "I saw a new heaven and a new earth" -- we read in the Book of Revelation -- "I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband ... 'Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race'" (Revelation 21:1-3). Advent invites us to turn our gaze toward the "heavenly Jerusalem," which is the ultimate end of our earthly pilgrimage. At the same time, it exhorts us to commit ourselves with prayer, conversion and good works, to welcome Jesus in our lives, to construct with him this spiritual building of which each one of us -- our families and our communities -- is a precious stone.

Among all the stones that make up the heavenly Jerusalem, certainly the most resplendent and valuable, because of all of them it is the one closest to Christ -- the cornerstone -- is Mary Most Holy. Through her intercession, let us pray that this Advent will be for the whole Church a time of spiritual building and so speed up the coming of the Kingdom of God.

[After the Angelus, the Pope announced in Italian:]

On Thursday, December 14, in St. Peter's Basilica, I will have a meeting with the students of the Roman universities. Dear young people: I await you in great numbers to prepare for Christmas invoking from the Lord Jesus the gift of intellectual charity for the whole university community.

[The Pope then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today. On this second Sunday of Advent, the Church puts before us the figure of John the Baptist, the voice crying in the wilderness: "Prepare a way for the Lord". During this Advent season, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ, let us prepare a place for him in our hearts. I invoke God's abundant blessings upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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