Pope Begins Liturgical Year With Call to Holiness

Gives Spontaneous Homily on First Sunday of Advent

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Presiding over vespers of the First Sunday of Advent, Benedict XVI began the new liturgical year with an appeal to holiness.



In a spontaneous homily in St. Peter\'s Basilica on Saturday, the Pope commented on 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

In the text, St. Paul says to his faithful: \"May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.\"

The first verse \"expresses the apostle\'s hope for the community; the second offers, so to speak, the guarantee of its fulfillment,\" explained the Holy Father.

\"The hope is that each one will be sanctified by God and be kept without stain in his whole person -- \'spirit, soul and body\' -- for the final coming of the Lord Jesus; the guarantee that this can take place is offered by the faithfulness of God himself, who will not fail to lead to fulfillment the work begun in believers,\" continued the Pope.

According to the Bishop of Rome, the hope expressed by the apostle \"contains a fundamental truth, which he tries to inculcate in the faithful of the community he founded, and which we can summarize thus: God calls us to communion with himself, which will be fully realized with the return of Christ, and he himself commits himself to make his faithful arrive prepared at this final and decisive encounter.\"

\"The future is, so to speak, contained in the present or, better still, in the presence of God himself, of his unbreakable love, which does not leave us alone, which does not abandon us not even for an instant, as a father and mother never cease to follow their own children on the path of their growth,\" said the Pontiff in his homily delivered without notes.

Integral

\"Before Christ who comes, man feels questioned in his whole being, which the apostle summarizes in the terms \'spirit, soul and body,\' thus indicating the whole person, as an articulated unity of somatic, psychic and spiritual dimension,\" he said.

\"Sanctification is gift of God and his initiative, but the human being is called to respond with his whole being, without excluding anything,\" stated the Successor of the Apostle Peter.

\"Precisely the Holy Spirit,\" he said, \"who formed Jesus, perfect man, in Mary\'s womb, leads God\'s admirable plan to fulfillment in the human person, transforming above all the heart and, from this center, all the rest.\"

\"In this way, in each person is summarized the whole work of creation and redemption that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, realizes from the beginning until the end of the cosmos and of history,\" said the Pope.

\"And, just as at the center of the history of humanity is the coming of Christ and at the end his glorious return, so each personal existence is called to encounter him -- in a mysterious and manifold way -- during the earthly pilgrimage to meet \'in him\' at the moment of his return,\" he said.

The Holy Father concluded: \"May Mary most holy, faithful Virgin, guide us to make of this time of Advent and of all of the new liturgical year a path of genuine sanctification, for the praise and glory of God the Father, Son and Spirit.\"