By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The secret to experiencing true joy is not found in accumulating lots of things, but from feeling loved by the Lord and being generous to others, Pope Benedict XVI said.
Real joy is feeling that one’s personal and social life “is touched and filled by a great mystery, the mystery of God’s love,” he said Dec. 13 before his midday recitation of the Angelus with pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.
On the third Sunday of Advent, called Gaudete (Latin for “rejoice”) Sunday, the pope said Advent helps people “rediscover the meaning and pleasure of Christian joy, which is so different from that (joy) of the world.”
The square was filled with children and families who brought statues of the baby Jesus for the pope to bless before placing them in Nativity scenes at home and at school.
Before blessing the figurines, the pope expressed his happiness that families continue to keep the Nativity scene tradition alive. But, he said, “following a tradition, as important as it is, is not enough.”
“It’s necessary to try to live every single day in the way the Nativity represents, that is, with Christ’s love, his humility and his poverty,” he said.
The Nativity scene is a lesson for life, a scene depicting the secret to true joy, he said.
The Holy Family, gathered in a stable and facing so many hardships, does not on the surface, look like a very lucky family, he said.
“And yet, they are full of an intimate joy because they love each other, they help each other” and above all they are certain that their lives are fulfilling God’s work, said the pope.
True joy, therefore, “does not consist in having lots of things, but in feeling loved by the Lord, in letting ourselves be a gift to others, and in loving ourselves,” he said.
To feel joy, people need love and truth and to be close to God, who “warms our hearts and responds to our deepest needs,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the pope visited the Rome Foundation Hospice and met with the center’s healthcare workers and 30 terminally ill patients. The patients, many of whom suffer from cancer, Alzheimer’s or Lou Gehrig’s disease, receive free palliative care and treatment.
The pope said today’s world tends to marginalize people suffering from a terminal illness — considering them to be a problem or a burden on society.
People who understand the inherent human dignity of these patients, however, know that the ill must “be respected and supported while the difficulties and suffering tied to their condition is dealt with,” he said.
The pope said it is essential that healthcare workers “offer the sick concrete gestures of love, intimacy, and Christian solidarity” in order to meet their need for understanding, comfort, and constant encouragement.
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