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Pope Benedict - On Hope

"The World Needs God -- the True God"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Sunday before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

With this First Sunday of Advent a new liturgical year begins: The people of God again takes up its journey to live the mystery of Christ in history. Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (cf. Hebrews, 13:8); history, however, changes and requires constant evangelization; it needs to be renewed from within and the one true novelty is Christ: He is the fulfillment of history, the luminous future of man and the world.

Risen from the dead, Jesus is the Lord to whom God will make all enemies submit, including death itself (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:25-28). Advent, therefore, is the propitious time to reawaken in our hearts the expectation of him "who is, who was and who is coming" (Revelation 1:8). The Son of God already came to Bethlehem 20 centuries ago, he is coming in every moment into the soul and the community that is disposed to receive him, and he will come again at the end of time, "to judge the living and the dead." Thus, the believer is always vigilant, animated by the intimate hope of meeting the Lord, as the psalm says: "I hope in the Lord, my soul hopes in his word. My soul waits for the Lord, more than the watchmen for the dawn" (Psalm 129:5-6).

This Sunday is, therefore, a most appropriate day to offer to the whole Church and all men of good will my second encyclical, which I wanted to dedicate to the theme of Christian hope. It is entitled "Spe Salvi" because it opens with the line of St. Paul, "Spe salvi facti sumus," that is, "In hope we have been saved" (Romans 8:24).

In this passage, as in others in the New Testament, the word "hope" is closely connected with the word "faith." It is a gift that changes the life of those who receive it, as the experience of so many saints demonstrates. In what does this hope consist that is so great and so "trustworthy" as to make us say that "in it" we have "salvation"?

In substance it consists in the knowledge of God, in the discovery of his heart as a good and merciful Father. Jesus, with his death on the cross and his resurrection, has revealed to us his countenance, the countenance of a God so great in love as to communicate to us an indestructible hope, a hope that not even death can crack, because the life of those who entrust themselves to this Father always opens up to the perspective of eternal beatitude.

The development of modern science has confined faith and hope more and more to the private and individual sphere, so much so that today it appears in an evident way, and sometimes dramatically, that the world needs God -- the true God! -- otherwise it remains deprived of hope. Science contributes much to the good of humanity -- without a doubt -- but it is not able to redeem humanity.

Man is redeemed by love, which renders social life good and beautiful. Because of this the great hope, that one that is full and definitive, is guaranteed by God, by God who is love, who has visited us in Jesus and given his life to us, and in Jesus he will return at the end of time.

It is in Christ that we hope and it is him that we await! With Mary, his Mother, the Church goes out to meet the Bridegroom: She does this with works of charity, because hope, like faith, is demonstrated in love. A good Advent to all!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in several languages. In English, he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for our "Angelus" prayer. My special greeting goes to the pilgrims from Brisbane in Australia. This Sunday marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Advent. May this time of joyful expectation and spiritual preparation for the Lord's coming be one of genuine conversion and interior renewal for Christians everywhere. Upon you and your families I invoke God's richest blessings!

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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