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Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

Here is an unofficial translation (via the Google translator):

Dear brothers and sisters!

Still wrapped in the spiritual atmosphere of Christmas , in which we contemplated the mystery of Christ's birth, we celebrate today the same sentiments with the Virgin Mary, whom the Church venerates as Mother of God, as she gave flesh to the Son of God. The Bible readings for this feast emphasize mainly on the Son of God made man and the "name" of the Lord. The first reading presents us with the solemn blessing pronounced on the Israelites, the priests in the major religious holidays: it is marked precisely by the name of the Lord, repeated three times, as to express the fullness and the strength that comes from that invocation. This text liturgical blessing, in fact, recalls the riches of grace and peace that God gives to man, with a kindly disposition towards him, and that manifests itself with "shine" of the divine face and the "turning" toward us.

The Church listen again to these words today, asking the Lord to bless the new year just started, knowing that, before the tragic events that mark the history, before the logic of war which are unfortunately not yet completely overcome, only God can touch the depths of the human soul and ensure hope and peace to mankind. And 'well-established tradition, in fact, that the first day of the Church, spread throughout the world, raise a collective prayer to invoke peace. It 'good to start a new stretch of the road placing itself firmly on the path of peace. Today, we want to raise the cry of so many men, women, children and elderly victims of the war, which is the face most horrible and violent history. Today we pray that peace which the angels announced to the shepherds on Christmas night, can get anywhere, " super Terram bonae voluntatis pax hominibus "( Lk 2:14). For this, especially with our prayers, we want to help every man and every people, particularly those with responsibility of government, to walk in an ever more decisive steps towards peace.

In the second reading, St. Paul sums up subsidiary in adopting the work of salvation accomplished by Christ, which is set as the figure of Mary. Thanks to her, the Son of God, "born of woman" ( Gal 4:4), could come into the world as a man, in the fullness of time. This task, this fullness, about the past and the messianic expectations that come true, but at the same time, it also refers to the fullness in the absolute sense: in the Word made flesh, God said his word final and definitive. On the threshold of a new year, rings out as an invitation to walk with joy to the light of the "rising sun from above" ( Lk 1.78), as in the Christian perspective, all the time is inhabited by God, not c 'is the future that is not in the direction of Christ and there is fullness of that outside of Christ.

The passage of today's Gospel ends with the naming of Jesus, while Mary takes part in silence, meditating in the heart of this mystery to his son, who is in a totally unique gift from God But the Gospel passage we have hearing draws particular attention to the shepherds, that they returned "glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen" ( Lk 2:20). The angel had foretold that the city of David, which is Bethlehem, the Savior was born and they would find the sign : a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger (cf. Lk 2:11-12). Leave in a hurry, they found Mary and Joseph and the Child. Note how the Evangelist speaks of motherhood of Mary from her Son, from the "baby wrapped in swaddling clothes," because he is - the Word of God ( Jn 1:14) - the reference point, the center of the event He is being fulfilled and to ensure that the motherhood of Mary is described as "divine."

This attention to the prevalent today's readings dedicated to the "Son", Jesus does not diminish the role of the Mother, or rather, places it in perspective: Mary, Mother of God is true in virtue of her total relationship to Christ. Therefore, by glorifying the Son, the Mother is honored and honoring the Mother glorifies the Son. The title "Mother of God," which today's liturgy highlights, underlines the unique mission of the Holy Virgin in salvation history: the mission that lies at the heart of worship and devotion that the Christian people revere. In fact, Mary did not receive the gift of God for himself alone, but bring to him into the world in her fruitful virginity, God has given human beings the blessings of eternal salvation (cf. Collect ). And Mary continually offers its mediation to the pilgrim People of God in history to eternity, as they once offered it to the shepherds of Bethlehem. She, who gave life on earth to the Son of God continues to give men the divine life which is Jesus himself and his Holy Spirit. For she is considered the mother of every man who comes to Grace and all is invoked as Mother of the Church.

It is the name of Mary, Mother of God and men, that from 1 January 1968 is being celebrated all over the world the World Day of Peace . Peace is a gift of God, as we heard in the first reading: "... The Lord give you peace" ( Nm 6.26). It is the Messianic gift par excellence, the first fruit of love that Jesus gave us, is our peace and reconciliation with God Peace is a human value to achieve social and political, but has its roots in the mystery of Christ (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Gaudium et Spes , 77-90). In this solemn celebration, at the Forty-fourth World Day of Peace, I am pleased to extend my respectful greetings to the distinguished Ambassadors to the Holy See, with the best wishes for their mission. A cordial and fraternal greeting, then, to my Secretary of State and other leaders of the Roman Curia , with a special thought for the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and his staff. I wish to express their deep gratitude for the daily commitment to peaceful coexistence among peoples and the formation of a more solid peace consciousness in the Church and the world. In this perspective, the ecclesial community is increasingly committed to act in accordance with the directives of the Magisterium, to offer a safe spiritual patrimony of values and principles in the continuing search for peace.

I recalled in my Message for today's Day, entitled "Freedom of religion, path to peace": "The world needs God Needs ethical and spiritual values, universal and shared, and religion can make a valuable contribution in their quest to build a just international and social order and peace "(n. 15). I pointed out, therefore, that "religious freedom is an essential element of the rule of law, you can not deny the same time without affecting the rights and fundamental freedoms, being short and summit" (No. 5).

Humanity can not appear resigned to the negative force of selfishness and violence, must not make a habit of conflicts that cause casualties and put at risk the future of peoples. Faced with the threatening tensions of the moment, especially in the face of discrimination, the abuses and religious intolerance, which today affect, in particular the Christians (cf. ibid. , 1), once again I address this urgent appeal to not give in to discouragement and resignation. I urge everyone to pray that come to fruition the efforts undertaken by several parties to promote and build peace in the world. For this difficult task are not enough words, we need the commitment and constant practice of the leaders of nations, but it is especially necessary that every person is busy the true spirit of peace, by pleading over and over again in prayer and to live in daily relations, in any environment.

In this Eucharistic celebration we have before our eyes, our reverence, the image of the Madonna del Sacro Monte di Viggiano, so dear to the people of Basilicata. The Virgin Mary gives us her Son, showing us the face of her Son, the Prince of Peace to help you to stay in the light of this face, that shines upon us (cf. Nm 6.25), to discover all tenderness of God the Father, for her to support us in invoking the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth and transform the hearts dissolving the hardness of their goodness before the disarming  Child that is born for us. The Mother of God be with us in this new year, obtain for us and for the whole world wanted the gift of peace. Amen.

The Holy Father offers us so much food for thought in his homily.  When we venerate the Mother, we glorify the Son.  When we worship the Son, we honor the Mother.  Son and Mother are inseparable by a bond that can never be broken.  Through Mary's fiat, God assumes our flesh and thus, he becomes our very brother.  Jesus is the way to the Father, but, lest we forget that Jesus comes to us by way of His Mother, Mary. 

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