JESUS DOES NOT GIVE UP, DESPITE OUR REJECTION
Vatican City, 5 January 2014 (VIS) – At midday today, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
“With the birth of Jesus, not only is a new world born, but also a world which can always be renewed”, said, the Pope. “God is always present to revive mankind anew, to cleanse the world of sin that ages and corrupts. While the history of humanity and the personal history of each one of us may be fraught with difficulties and weakness, faith in the Incarnation tells us that God is united with humanity and our history. This proximity of God to man, to every man, each of us, is a gift that never ends! Behold the glad tidings of Christmas: the divine light, which overflowed in the hearts of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, and guided the steps of the shepherds and the Magi, shines today for us too”.
The Holy Father went on to remark that there is an aspect of incarnation of the Son of God linked to the human freedom of us all. “The Word of God pitches his tent among us, sinners in need of mercy. And we should all hasten to receive the grace that He offers us. However, the Gospel of St. John tells us that ‘his people did not welcome him’. We too often reject Him: we prefer to remain trapped by our mistakes and by the anxiety of our sins. But Jesus does not give up and never stops offering Himself and His grace that saves us! This is a message of salvation, ancient yet always new. And we are called to bear witness, with joy, to the Gospel message of life and light, hope and love”.
POPE FRANCIS TO VISIT THE HOLY LAND FROM 24 TO 26 MAY
Vatican City, 5 January 2014 (VIS) – Following the Sunday Angelus prayer, Pope Francis announced to the pilgrims and faithful present that he will visit the Holy Land from 24 to 26 May this year.
“If God wills, I will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, principally to commemorate the historic encounter between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras, which took place on 5 January fifty years ago. The journey will involve visits to three places: Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. In the Holy Sepulchre there will be an ecumenical meeting with all the representatives of the Christian Churches of Jerusalem, attended also by Patriarch Bartolomew of Constantinople. From now on, I ask for your prayers for this pilgrimage”.
MARY, SOURCE OF HOPE AND TRUE JOY
Vatican City, 1 January 2014 (VIS) – This Wednesday, Solemnity of Holy Mary Mother of God, and Octave of Christmas, the Holy Father presided at the Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica, concelebrated by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”; Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State; Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute secretary of State; and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. Today is also 47th World Day of Peace, the theme of which is “Fraternity, the foundation and pathway to peace”.
The full text of Pope Francis’ homily is published below:
“In the first reading we find the ancient prayer of blessing which God gave to Moses to hand on to Aaron and his sons: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace’. There is no more meaningful time than the beginning of a new year to hear these words of blessing: they will accompany our journey through the year opening up before us. They are words of strength, courage and hope. Not an illusory hope, based on frail human promises, or a naive hope which presumes that the future will be better simply because it is the future. Rather, it is a hope that has its foundation precisely in God’s blessing, a blessing which contains the greatest message of good wishes there can be; and this is the message which the Church brings to each of us, filled with the Lord’s loving care and providential help.
“The message of hope contained in this blessing was fully realized in a woman, Mary, who was destined to become the Mother of God, and it was fulfilled in her before all creatures.
The Mother of God. This is the first and most important title of Our Lady. It refers to a quality, a role which the faith of the Christian people, in its tender and genuine devotion to our heavenly Mother, has understood from the beginning. We recall that great moment in the history of the ancient Church, the Council of Ephesus, in which the divine motherhood of the Virgin Mary was authoritatively defined. The truth of her divine maternity found an echo in Rome where, a little later, the Basilica of Saint Mary Major was built, the first Marian shrine in Rome and in the entire West, in which the image of the Mother of God – the Theotokos – is venerated under the title of Salus Populi Romani. It is said that the residents of Ephesus used to gather at the gates of the basilica where the bishops were meeting and shout, ‘Mother of God!’. The faithful, by asking them to officially define this title of Our Lady, showed that they acknowledged her divine motherhood. Theirs was the spontaneous and sincere reaction of children who know their Mother well, for they love her with immense tenderness. But it is more: it is the sensus fidei of the holy People of God which, in its unity, never errs.
“Mary has always been present in the hearts, the piety and above all the pilgrimage of faith of the Christian people. ‘The Church journeys through time… and on this journey she proceeds along the path already trodden by the Virgin Mary’. Our journey of faith is the same as that of Mary, and so we feel that she is particularly close to us. As far as faith, the hinge of the Christian life, is concerned, the Mother of God shared our condition. She had to take the same path as ourselves, a path which is sometimes difficult and obscure. She had to advance in the ‘pilgrimage of faith’.
“Our pilgrimage of faith has been inseparably linked to Mary ever since Jesus, dying on the Cross, gave her to us as our Mother, saying: ‘Behold your Mother!’. These words serve as a testament, bequeathing to the world a Mother. From that moment on, the Mother of God also became our Mother! When the faith of the disciples was most tested by difficulties and uncertainties, Jesus entrusted them to Mary, who was the first to believe, and whose faith would never fail. The ‘woman’ became our Mother when she lost her divine Son. Her sorrowing heart was enlarged to make room for all men and women, all, whether good or bad, and she loves them as she loved Jesus. The woman who at the wedding at Cana in Galilee gave her faith-filled cooperation so that the wonders of God could be displayed in the world, at Calvary kept alive the flame of faith in the resurrection of her Son, and she communicates this with maternal affection to each and every person. Mary becomes in this way a source of hope and true joy!
“The Mother of the Redeemer goes before us and continually strengthens us in faith, in our vocation and in our mission. By her example of humility and openness to God’s will she helps us to transmit our faith in a joyful proclamation of the Gospel to all, without reservation. In this way our mission will be fruitful, because it is modelled on the motherhood of Mary. To her let us entrust our journey of faith, the desires of our heart, our needs and the needs of the whole world, especially of those who hunger and thirst for justice and peace, and for God. Let us then together invoke her, and I invite you to invoke her three times, following the example of those brothers and sisters of Ephesus: Mother of God! Mother of God! Mother of God! Amen”.