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Angelus: Reflection on John the Baptist's Message

On Second Sunday of Advent

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 7, 2003 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before praying the midday Angelus with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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1. "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Luke 3:4).

This invitation of St. John the Baptist resounds with vigor today, the second Sunday of Advent, a prophetic cry that continues to have repercussions through the centuries.

We also hear it in our time, while humanity continues on its path through history. He shows the way that must be traveled, to the people of the third millennium in search of serenity and peace.

2. The entire liturgy of Advent echoes the Precursor, inviting us to go out and meet Christ, who is coming to save us. We are preparing to recall the birth that took place in Bethlehem around 2,000 years ago; we renew our faith in his glorious coming at the end of time. At the same time, we dispose ourselves to recognize him present in our midst: In fact, he also visits us in persons and in daily events.

3. Our model and guide in this spiritual itinerary typical of Advent is Mary, who is even more blessed for having believed in Christ than for having engendered him physically (see St. Augustine, Sermon 25,7: PL 46,937). In her, preserved immaculate from all sin and full of grace, God found the "good earth" in which he planted the seed of new humanity.

May the Immaculate Virgin, who we dispose ourselves to celebrate tomorrow, help us to prepare well "the way of the Lord" in ourselves and in the world.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims as follows:]

In preparation for a Holy Christmas, the holy Mass for students of Rome's universities will take place at 5 p.m. next Thursday, Dec. 11, in St. Peter's Basilica. Dear university students, I expect you in great numbers together with your friends of other European countries present in Rome, to reflect on the contribution that must be made to the construction of Europe's future.

To all of you, dear pilgrims, I wish a happy Sunday and a happy feast of the Immaculate Conception.

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