FULL TEXT Homily of Pope Francis "For this there is a need to draw from God's forgiveness, the power of love, to draw the same Spirit descended on Mary." at Penitential Service and Consecration + Video




St. Peter's Basilica
Friday, 25 March 2022

 In today's Gospel of today's Solemnity, the Angel Gabriel speaks three times and addresses the Virgin Mary.

SEE ALSO: Consecration Prayer with Pope Francis on March 25th https://www.catholicnewsworld.com/2022/03/pope-francis-live-for-fatima.html

The first time, in greeting her, he says: "Rejoice, full of grace: the Lord is with you" ( Lk 1:28). The reason to rejoice, the reason for joy, is revealed in a few words: the Lord is with you . Brother, sister, today you can hear these words addressed to you, to each of us; you can make them yours every time you approach God's forgiveness, because there the Lord tells you: “I am with you”. Too often we think that Confession consists in our going to God with our heads bowed. But it is not first of all we who return to the Lord; it is he who comes to visit us, to fill us with his grace, to rejoice us with his joy. Confessing is giving the Father the joy of getting up againAt the center of what we will live there are not our sins, they will be there, but they are not at the center; his forgiveness: this is the center. Let's try to imagine if at the center of the Sacrament there were our sins: almost everything would depend on us, on our repentance, on our efforts, on our commitments.

But no, at the center is Him, who frees us and puts us back on our feet.

Let us return the primacy to grace and ask for the gift of understanding that Reconciliation is not first of all our step towards God, but his embrace that envelops us, amazes us, moves us. It is the Lord who, as in Nazareth from Mary, enters our house and brings a previously unknown amazement and joy: the joy of forgiveness. Let's put God's perspective in the foreground: we will return to become attached to Confession. We need it, because every interior rebirth, every spiritual turning point begins from here, from God's forgiveness. Let's not neglect Reconciliation, but let's rediscover it as the Sacrament of joy.Yes, the Sacrament of joy, where the evil that makes us ashamed becomes the occasion to experience the warm embrace of the Father, the sweet strength of Jesus that heals us, the "maternal tenderness" of the Holy Spirit. This is the heart of Confession.

And then, dear brothers and sisters, let us go on to receive forgiveness. You, brothers who administer God's forgiveness, be the ones who offer those who approach the joy of this announcement: Rejoice, the Lord is with you . No stiffness, please, no obstacles, no discomfort; doors open to mercy! Especially in Confession, we are called to impersonate the Good Shepherd who picks up the sheep and caresses them for him; we are called to be channels of grace that pour into the dryness of the heart the living water of the Father's mercy. If a priest does not have this attitude, if he does not have these feelings in his heart, it is better for him not to go to confession.

For the second time the Angel speaks to Mary. To her, disturbed by the greeting received, he says: "Do not be afraid" (v. 30). First: "The Lord is with you"; second word: “Do not fear”. In Scripture, when God presents himself to those who welcome him, he loves to say these two words: do not be afraid . He says them to Abraham (cf. Gen 15: 1), he repeats them to Isaac (cf. Gen 26:24), to Jacob (cf. Gen 46.3) and so on, up to Joseph ( cf.1.20) and to Mary: do not fear, do not fear. In this way he sends us a clear and consoling message: every time life opens up to God, fear can no longer hold us hostage. Because fear holds us hostage. You, sister, brother, if your sins frighten you, if your past worries you, if your wounds do not heal, if the continuous falls demoralize you and you seem to have lost hope, please do not fear. God knows your weaknesses and is greater than your mistakes. God is greater than our sins: he is much greater! One thing he asks of you: your frailties, your miseries, do not keep them within you; Take them to Him, lay them down in Him, and from reasons of desolation they will become opportunities for resurrection. Do not fear! The Lord asks us for our sins. The story of that desert monk comes to mind, who had given everything to God, everything, and led a life of fasting, penance, prayer. The Lord asked him more. “Lord, I have given you everything”, says the monk, “what is missing?”. "Give me your sins". So the Lord asks us. Do not fear.

The Virgin Mary accompanies us: she herself threw her disturbance in God. The Angel's announcement gave her serious reasons for fear. He proposed something unthinkable, which was beyond her strength and which she alone she could not manage: there would be too many difficulties, problems with the Mosaic law, with Joseph, with the people of her country and of the people of her. All these are difficulties: do not fear.

But Mary raises no objections. She is enough not to fear , the reassurance of God is enough for her. She clings to Him, as we want to do tonight. Because we often do the opposite: we start from our certainties and, only when we lose them, do we go to God. Our Lady, on the other hand, teaches us starting from God, trusting that in this way all the rest will be given to us (cf. Mt 6:33 ). She invites us to go to the source, to go to the Lord, who is the radical remedy against fear and the evil of living. She remembers a beautiful phrase, reproduced above a confessional here in the Vatican, which addresses God with these words: " To move away from You is to fall, to return to You is to rise again, to remain in You is to exist " (cf. St. Augustine, Soliloquium I, 3).

In these days news and images of death continue to enter our homes, while bombs destroy the homes of many of our unarmed Ukrainian brothers and sisters. The brutal war, which has befallen many and makes everyone suffer, causes fear and dismay in each one. We feel a sense of helplessness and inadequacy inside. We need to be told "do not fear". But human reassurance is not enough, the presence of God is needed, the certainty of divine forgiveness, the only one who cancels evil, defuses rancor, restores peace to the heart. Let's go back to God, let's go back to his forgiveness.

For the third time the Angel resumes speaking. He now he says to Our Lady: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you" ( Lk1.35). "The Lord is with you"; "Do not fear"; and the third word is "the Holy Spirit will come upon you". This is how God intervenes in history: giving the Spirit of himself. Because in what matters our strength is not enough. We alone are unable to resolve the contradictions of history or even those of our heart. We need the wise and meek strength of God, which is the Holy Spirit. We need the Spirit of love, which dissolves hatred, extinguishes resentment, extinguishes greed, awakens us from indifference. That Spirit that gives us harmony, because He is harmony. We need God's love because our love is precarious and insufficient. We ask the Lord so many things, but we often forget to ask him what is most important and what He wishes to give us: the Holy Spirit, that is, the strength to love. Without love, in fact, what will we offer to the world? Someone said that a Christian without love is like a needle that does not sew: it stings, it wounds, but if it does not sew, if it does not weave, if it does not join, it is useless. I dare say: he is not a Christian. For this there is a need to draw from God's forgiveness the power of love, to draw the same Spirit descended on Mary.

Because, if we want the world to change, our heart must first change. To do this, today let us allow ourselves to be taken by the hand of Our Lady. Let us look at her immaculate Heart, where God rested, at the one Heart of a human creature without shadows. She is "full of grace" (v. 28), and therefore empty of sin: in her there is no trace of evil and therefore with her God was able to begin a new history of salvation and peace. There, history took a turn. God changed history by knocking on the Heart of Mary.

And today we too, renewed by forgiveness, knock on that Heart. In union with the Bishops and the faithful of the world, I solemnly wish to bring to the Immaculate Heart of Mary all that we are experiencing: to renew to her the consecration of the Church and of all humanity and to consecrate to her, in a particular way, the Ukrainian people and the Russian people, who with filial affection venerate her as Mother. It is not a magic formula, no, it is not that; but it is a spiritual act. It is the gesture of the full entrustment of her children who, in the tribulation of this cruel war and this senseless war that threatens the world, have recourse to the Mother. Like children, when they are frightened, they go to their mother to cry, to seek protection. Let us have recourse to her Mother, throwing her fear and pain into her Heart, delivering ourselves to her.

From Mary's lips came the most beautiful phrase that the Angel could bring back to God: "Let it be done to me according to your word" (v. 38). That of Our Lady is not a passive or resigned acceptance, but the lively desire to adhere to God, who has "plans for peace and not for misfortune" ( Jer 29:11). It is the closest participation in his world peace plan. We consecrate ourselves to Mary to enter this plan, to put ourselves at the full disposal of God's plans. The Mother of God, after having said her yes, undertook a long uphill journey towards a mountainous region to visit her pregnant cousin ( cf.1.39). She went in a hurry. I like to think of Our Lady in a hurry, always like this, Our Lady who hurries to help us, to keep us safe. May she take our path by the hand today: guide him through the steep and tiring paths of fraternity and dialogue, guide him on the path of peace.

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