During the Angelus on this Third Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis greeted the many pilgrims present, including many families with their children, who brought little statuettes of the Child Jesus to be blessed on this day, known as "Bambinelli Sunday". Saint Pope Paul VI started this tradition over fifty years ago.
Speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking the Square, Pope Francis greeted the children present, wishing them and their families a blessed Christmas. He blessed the figurines of the Child Jesus they brought with them to be placed in their Christmas nativity scenes back home.
He also offered special greetings to pilgrims from Latin America present in St. Peter's Square as part of a group dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is celebrated annually on December 12. He also greeted all those from Caritas Internationalis celebrating their 70th anniversary, and praised their work helping the most vulnerable in the world, especially those affected by environmental degradation.
Before leading the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope reflected on today's Gospel reading, which recounts John the Baptist responding to those who come to him asking how to change their lives for the better, since their hearts were touched by the Lord. It reflects an enthusiasm for the Lord's coming and a desire to prepare themselves concretely for this joyous, life-changing experience. In the same way, we too should ask ourselves what we should do within our own lives, the Pope suggested, and reflect on what we are called to do and become.
The question of what we are to do recalls that "life has a task for us", the Pope said. It is not something left to chance, but rather, "It is a gift that the Lord grants us", since He asks to discover ourselves and "to work hard to make the dream that is your life come true". We all have a mission to accomplish, he explained, and we should not be afraid to ask the Lord this question often: What can we do for the Lord, and what can we for ourselves, our brothers and sisters, the Pope asked, and how can this be translated concretely into contributing to the good of the Church and society? Advent is the time we need "to stop and ask ourselves how to prepare for Christmas", what we should do for Jesus and others.
John the Baptist, in responding to those who ask him "what should we do?", gives each person a very concrete reply to their life situation. And this offers a precious teaching, the Pope said, that "faith is incarnated in concrete life", touching us personally and transforming our lives.
In conclusion, he encouraged everyone to think concretely about what we can do, small or big, in our own lives as we prepare for Christmas. This could mean visiting someone who is alone, helping the elderly or the ill, or serving the poor or someone in need. It may also mean asking for forgiveness for our mistakes, paying a debt, clarifying a misunderstanding, or praying more. We can all find something concrete to do, the Pope emphasized, adding, "May the Blessed Mother help us!"