Sunday, November 28, 2010

"The Waiting": B16 on Advent... and AIDS

At today's noontime Angelus, B16 tackled Advent's dominant mindset in a memorable meditation... channeling Tom Petty in the process:
I'd like to dwell briefly on this suggestive theme of "waiting," as it speaks to a profoundly human aspect, in which faith becomes, so to say, one with our flesh and our hearts.

Waiting -- standing by -- is a dimension that crosses all of our existence: personal, family and social. This waiting is found in a thousand situations, from those little, everyday ones all the way to the most important things, those which completely, deeply, wrap us up. Among these, let us think of the waiting for a child by a couple; those of a relative or friend who comes to visit us from afar; let us think, for a young person, of the waiting for the result of an important test, or a job interview; in emotional relationships, of the waiting for one's encounter with their beloved, of the response to a letter, or the acceptance of an apology... It could be said that man is alive while he waits, that in his heart hope is alive. And from these waitings man comes to know himself: our moral and spiritual "stature" can be measured by that for which we wait, by that in which we hope.

Each of us, then, especially in this time that prepares us for Christmas, can ask ourselves: what am I waiting for? What, in this moment of my life, reaches out of my heart? This same question can place itself in the context of family, of community, of nation. What do we wait for, together? What unites our hopes, what do we share? In the time preceding the birth of Jesus, so strong in Israel was the anticipation of the Messiah, of the Sacred One, descendant of King David, who would finally liberate the people from their moral and political slavery and inaugurate the Kingdom of God. But no one would ever have imagined that the Messiah could be born of a humble girl like Mary, betrothed to the just man Joseph. Neither had she thought of it, though in her heart the waiting for the Savior was so great, her faith and her hope so ardent, that He could find in her a worthy mother. From the first, God himself prepared her, even from before the ages. There is a mysterious correspondence between the waiting of God and that of Mary, the creature "full of grace," totally transparent to the design of the Most High's love. Let us learn from her, the Lady of Advent, to live our daily duties with a new spirit, with the sense of a profound waiting, one only the coming of God can quench.
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Meanwhile, considering the recent media melee/ad intra foodfight occasioned by the Pope's comments on condoms in his freshly-released chat-book, something worth watching in the days ahead in light of the fracas is the degree to which Benedict will maintain his pontificate's well-established practice of an annual appeal to mark World AIDS Day -- observed by the church and civil society alike on 1 December.

As the pontiff duly noted in Light of the World, "the church does more than anyone else" in its global care efforts for many of the over 40 million stricken with HIV/AIDS "because she does not speak from the tribunal of the newspapers, but helps her brothers and sisters where they are actually suffering."

From practically all sides, said work yet again went ignored amid the latex-wrapped storm of discourse that shrouded the Vatican over the last week... along those lines, though, given the particular ecclesial context of this World AIDS Day, here's a recap of B16's annual statements for the observance:

General Audience, 30 November 2005:
Tomorrow, 1 December, is World AIDS Day, a United Nations initiative planned to call attention to the scourge of AIDS and to invite the International Community to a renewed commitment in the work of prevention and supportive assistance to those afflicted. The figures published are alarming!

Closely following Christ's example, the Church has always considered care of the sick as an integral part of her mission. I therefore encourage the many initiatives promoted especially by the Ecclesial Community to rout this disease, and I feel close to persons with AIDS and their families, invoking for them the help and comfort of the Lord.

Angelus, 26 November 2006:
This coming December 1 marks World AIDS Day. I wish greatly that this occasion promotes an increased responsibility for the care of this illness, together with the pledge of avoiding each instance of discrimination toward the many stricken with it. Calling the comfort of the Lord upon the sick and their families, I encourage the many initiatives that the Church maintains in this area.
General Audience, 28 November 2007:
World AIDS Day will be celebrated this coming 1 December. I am spiritually close to all who suffer from this terrible disease as well as to their families, especially those afflicted by the loss of a spouse. I assure all of them of my prayers.

I would also like to urge all people of good will to multiply their efforts to prevent the spread of the HIV virus, to oppose the contempt that often affects those who have the disease and to care for the sick, especially when they are still children.
Angelus, 29 November 2009:
[This coming 1 December sees the world day against AIDS.] My thoughts and prayers go to every person afflicted by this disease, especially the children, the very poor, and all those who are rejected. The Church does all it can to fight AIDS through its institutions and workers. I urge everyone to make their own contribution through prayers and actual care, so that those suffering from the HIV virus may experience the presence of the Lord, source of comfort and hope. Lastly, I hope that, through more coordinated efforts, we may be able to stop and eradicate this disease.
Needless to say, anyone interested in the "other shoe" might want to keep an eye for what happens at Wednesday's Audience.

PHOTOS: Reuters(1); AP(2)