“Who are you?” This is the question the Pharisee emissaries ask John the Baptist in the Gospel of the third

Sunday of Advent.

“Who are you?” and still not satisfied “What do you have to say for yourself?”

John, made notorious by the fame and success met in the villages of Palestine, could have worked himself

up, thought he was the Messiah or a sort of his unlikely double, just to feel proud of himself and show off in

front of his many followers.

No. John defines himself as a Voice, voice of one’s crying out.

John is a basic man, dressed with camel’s hair who eats locusts. He’s just


Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mary – a solemn day  so dear to Christians. This feast is at the beginning of the liturgical year, in the season of Advent, and lights the journey of the Church towards Christmas.

Today’s solemnity has as biblical background the Annunciation, during which the mysterious greeting of the Angel resounds: “Greetings, you who are the highly favored! The Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28).

“Highly favored”! Here’s Mary the way God imagined and wanted her from the beginning in his impenetrable plan: a creature entirely brimful with God’s love, all goodness, all beauty, all holiness.

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam 16:7). Mary’s heart stretches out to the fulfillment of God’s will. This is


The sequence is one to be remembered, or at least it’s one we’ll remember the most from Francis’ trip in Turkey.

It’s evening. We’re in the patriarchal church of Istanbul. It’s the moment of the ecumenical pray of the first vespers for Saint Andrew’s feast celebrated by Francis and Bartholomew I. The Pope is talking after having listened to today’s readings. It’s going to be a brief speech full of joy and gratitude for this encounter – “the evening brings always a sense that is a mix of gratitude for the day just passed, and of impatient trust for the falling night. This evening my soul is full of gratitude to God, who let me be here praying with His Holiness and our Sister Church at the end of a day of apostolic visit.” Francis follows his text without improvising, he goes ahead and quotes the Prophet Zachary to stress that peace, harmony and joy are gifts and promises of God exclusively. He slows down, maybe to let Bartholomew understand, who anyway speaks a perfect Italian as he studied in Rome in his youth. The Pope is short of breath,


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