Vatican City, 9 December 2012 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered below in St. Peter's Square. The Pope, in the Gospel of this second Sunday of Advent, commented on the figure of St. John the Baptist, who is presented by all four Gospels at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, as his precursor, while St. Luke offers us a posterior reading.

"John, as the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, both of priestly families, is not only the last of the prophets, but also represents the whole priesthood of the Old Covenant and therefore prepares mankind for the spiritual worship of the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus", explained the Pope. "John the Baptist is defined as the 'voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths'. The voice proclaims the word, but in this case the Word of God precedes, as it comes to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness".

"Thus he plays an important role, but always in relation to Christ", said the Pope, recalling the words of St. Augustine: 'John is the voice that passes away, Christ is the eternal Word'. Our task today is to listen to that voice, to give space to Jesus and to welcome Him, the Word that saves us, into our hearts. In this time of Advent, let us prepare to see, through the eyes of faith, God's salvation in the humble stable in Bethlehem. In our consumerist society, where we seek joy in material things, the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so that Christmas is not only experienced externally as a superficial holiday, but rather as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring peace, life and true joy to mankind".

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