St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 23 December 2018
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
The liturgy of this fourth Sunday of Advent focuses on the figure of Mary, the Virgin Mother, waiting to give birth to Jesus, the Savior of the world. Let us fix our gaze on her, a model of faith and charity; and we can ask ourselves: what were your thoughts during the months of waiting? The answer comes from the Gospel passage of today, the story of Mary's visit to her elderly relative, Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1: 39-45). The angel Gabriel had told her that Elizabeth was expecting a son and was already in the sixth month (cf. Lk 1: 26.36). And then the Virgin, who had just conceived Jesus by the work of God, had left hurriedly from Nazareth, in Galilee, to reach the mountains of Judea, and to find her cousin.
The Gospel says: "Entered the house of Zechariah, he greeted Elizabeth" (v.40). Surely she was happy with her for her motherhood, as in turn Elizabeth greeted Mary saying: "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! To what do I have to have the mother of my Lord come to me? "(Vv. 42-43). And he immediately praises his faith: "Blessed is she who believed in the fulfillment of what the Lord has told her" (v.45). It is evident the contrast between Mary, who had faith, and Zechariah, Elizabeth's husband, who had doubted, and had not believed the promise of the angel and therefore remained silent until the birth of John. It is a contrast.
This episode helps us to read with a very special light the mystery of man's encounter with God. An encounter that is not under the banner of amazing prodigies, but rather in the name of faith and charity. In fact, Mary is blessed because she believed: the encounter with God is the fruit of faith. Zaccaria instead, who doubted and did not believe, remained deaf and dumb. To grow in faith during the long silence: without faith we inevitably remain deaf to the consoling voice of God; and we remain unable to pronounce words of consolation and hope for our brothers. And we see him every day: people who have no faith or who have a very small faith, when they have to approach a person who suffers, tells them words of circumstance, but can not reach the heart because they have no strength. He has no strength because he has no faith, and if he has no faith the words that reach the heart of others do not come. Faith, in turn, is nourished in charity. The Evangelist tells us that "Mary got up and went quickly" (v. 39) from Elizabeth: in a hurry, not anxious, not anxious, but in a hurry, in peace. "He got up": a gesture full of concern. He could have stayed home to prepare for the birth of his son, instead he cares first of others than of himself, demonstrating in fact that he is already a disciple of that Lord he carries in his womb. The event of the birth of Jesus began like this, with a simple gesture of charity; moreover, authentic charity is always the fruit of God's love.
The Gospel of Mary's visit to Elizabeth, which we heard today in the Mass, prepares us to live Christmas well, communicating to us the dynamism of faith and charity. This dynamism is the work of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit of Love who fecundated Mary's virginal womb and who urged her to come to the service of her elderly relative. A dynamism full of joy, as we see in the meeting between the two mothers, which is all a hymn of joyous exultation in the Lord, who does great things with the little ones who trust Him.
May the Virgin Mary obtain for us the grace of living an extrovert Christmas, but not dispersed: extroverted: in the center there is not our "I", but the You of Jesus and the brothers' you, especially those who need a helping hand . Then we will leave room for love that, even today, wants to become flesh and come to live among us.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters!
My thoughts go, right now, to the populations of Indonesia, affected by violent natural disasters, which have caused serious losses in human lives, numerous missing and homeless people and extensive material damage. I invite everyone to join me in prayer for the victims and their loved ones. They are spiritually close to the displaced and to all the people tried, imploring God for relief in their suffering. I appeal that our solidarity and the support of the International Community should not be lacking to these brothers and sisters.
Let's pray together ... Ave, o Maria ...
I greet all of you, the faithful of Rome and pilgrims from Italy and from various countries. The day after tomorrow will be Christmas and my thoughts go especially to families, who are reunited these days: those who live far from their parents leave and go back home; the brothers try to find each other ... At Christmas it is beautiful and important to be together in the family.
But many people do not have this possibility, for different reasons; and today I would like to address in a special way to all those who are far from their family and their land. Dear brothers and sisters, our heavenly Father does not forget you and does not abandon you. If you are a Christian, I wish you to find in the Church a true family, where you can experience the warmth of fraternal love. And to all, those who are far from their family, Christians and non-Christians, I say: the doors of the Christian community are open, Jesus is born for everyone and gives everyone the love of God. I wish you good Sunday. Do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye.