At the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, His Holiness Pope Francis described Advent as a good opportunity to understand more fully the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, and to cultivate a personal relationship with the Son of God. The Pontiff was reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading (Mt 8:5-11), which recounts the meeting at Capernaum between Jesus and the centurion who asked him to heal his servant. Even today, he explained, it can happen that faith can become a habit for us; we can get used to it, forgetting its “liveliness.”

As reported by Vatican news, His Holiness Pope Francis emphasized that the first dimension of Advent is the past, “the purification of memory”: We have to remember that Christmas is not about the birth of a Christmas tree, but about the birth of Jesus Christ. The Pontiff remarked that “The Lord is born, the Redeemer who has come to save us. Yes, it is a celebration but we always face the danger, we will always have within us the temptation to make Christmas mondane, worldly. When the celebration stops being about contemplation—a beautiful family celebration with Jesus at the centre—it begins to be a worldly celebration: all about shopping, presents, this and that and the Lord remains there, forgotten. Even in our own life: yes, He is born, at Bethlehem, but then what? Advent is a time for purifying the memory of this time past, of that dimension.”

Finally, His Holiness Pope Francis invited everyone to “cultivate the daily dimension of the faith, despite so many cares and worries, taking custody of our own interior home.”