1. Today, on the first day of the New Year, the liturgy rings out with the ancient biblical blessing in which the name of the Lord is invoked upon the people. "The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace" (Nm 6: 26). I wholeheartedly extend this best wish to the whole world, invoking God's blessing upon the human family. May the Lord make his face shine upon every man and woman, and grant peace to all peoples.
1. Today, in the joyful atmosphere of Christmas, we are celebrating the Feast of St Stephen, one of the first deacons of the Church. He is also known as the "Protomartyr" because he was the first disciple of Christ to pour out his blood for him. Stephen was stoned to death because of false accusations similar to those levelled at Jesus himself and, like the Master, he died forgiving those who killed him.
1. Christmas is almost here. As the final touches are being given to the Nativity scene and the Christmas tree - in St Peter's Square as well - it is necessary to prepare the soul to live intensely this great mystery of faith.
1. "Rejoice in the Lord always.... The Lord is near" (Phil 4: 4-5).
With these words of the Apostle Paul the liturgy invites us to be joyful. It is the Third Sunday of Advent and is known as "Gaudete" Sunday for this very reason. These are the words the Servant of God Pope Paul VI chose for his memorable Apostolic Exhortation on Christian joy: "Gaudete in Domino!".
1. Today theseason of Advent begins, the journey of spiritual renewal in preparation for Christmas. The voices of the prophets who proclaim the Messiah ring out in the liturgy, asking for conversion of heart and for prayer. John the Baptist, the last of these and the greatest, cries out: "Prepare the way of the Lord!" (Lk 3: 4), because he "will come to visit his people in peace".
1. Today, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, we are celebrating the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. In recent months we have contemplated him in all his mysteries, from his Birth to his Ascension into Heaven, centring on Easter with his Death and Resurrection. Together with the Apostle Paul, we recognize that God's plan is "to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth" (Eph 1: 10).