Presiding over the morning Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica on New Year’s Day, Pope Francis spoke about the day when we celebrate the Holy Mother of God, “a simple phrase that confesses the Lord’s eternal covenant with us.”
1 January marks the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and also the day the Church marks the World Day of Peace.
The Pope illustrated the meaning of the expression “the fullness of time” we read in the Scriptures and how “divine grace spills over” when “God becomes man” through Mary, “the means chosen by God, the culmination of that long line of individuals and generations that ‘drop by drop’ prepared for the Lord’s coming into the world.”
“The Mother, then, stands at the very heart of the mystery of time. It pleased God to turn history around through her, the woman. With that one word, “woman”, the Scripture brings us back to the beginning, to Genesis, and makes us realise that the Mother and Child mark a new creation, a new beginning. Thus, at the beginning of the time of salvation, there is the Mother of God, our Holy Mother.”
The words “Mother of God,” the Pope explained, “express the joyful certainty that the Lord, a tiny Child in his Mamma’s arms, has united himself forever to our humanity, to the point that it is no longer only ours, but his as well,” the Lord’s eternal covenant with us.
“Mother of God: a dogma of faith, but also a “dogma of hope”; God in man, and man in God, forever. Holy Mother of God.”
At the same time, the Pope emphasised that we should remember that “the motherhood of Mary is the path leading us to the paternal tenderness of God, the closest, most direct and easiest of paths.”
The Church also needs to rediscover in Mary, Virgin and Mother, how to be “generative” with pastoral ministry distinguished by “concern and care, patience and maternal courage,” said the Pope. And the world could also look to mothers and women for ways to find peace and “see things with genuinely human eyes and hearts.”
“Every society needs to accept the gift that is woman, every woman: to respect, defend and esteem women, in the knowledge that whosoever harms a single woman profanes God, who was “born of a woman”.”
The Pope then spoke about how Mary plays “a decisive role” also in each of our lives, as “no one knows better than a Mother the stages of growth and the urgent needs of her children.”
“Mary knows our needs; she intercedes to make grace overflow in our lives and to guide them to authentic fulfilment.”
The Pope said we can “seek refuge” in Mary, especially in times of loneliness, when dealing with our shortcomings, “whenever we are no longer able to untie the knots in our lives.” And may we turn to Mary for help in becoming “artisans of unity” in our times “bereft of peace” so that we can do so “with her maternal creativity and concern for her children.”
In conclusion, the Pope said in his homily interspersed with quotes from Paul VI, Thomas of Celano, Martin Luther and the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, that we should entrust the New Year to the Mother of God, consecrating our lives to her, as “she will lead us to Jesus, who is himself ‘the fullness of time,’ of every time, of our own time.”
“May this year be filled with the consolation of the Lord! May this year be filled with the tender maternal love of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. I now invite all of us together to proclaim three times: Holy Mother of God! Holy Mother of God! Holy Mother of God!”