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Pope’s Homilies For The Solemnity Of Mary… “Show Us The Face Of Jesus Your Son”

January 13, 2016 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

(Editor’s Note: Below is the Vatican-provided text of Pope Francis’ homily in St. Peter’s Basilica the morning of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on New Year’s Day, which also marked the World Day of Peace. Below that is the ZENIT-provided text of his homily during the celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica, December 31, of the First Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God.

(Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the traditional Te Deum hymn in thanksgiving for the past year, and eucharistic benediction came after the First Vespers.
(ZENIT News Agency transmitted both texts. All rights reserved.

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We have heard the words of the Apostle Paul: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4).
What does it mean to say that Jesus was born in “the fullness of time”?
If we consider that particular moment of history, we might quickly be deluded. Rome had subjugated a great part of the known world by her military might. The Emperor Augustus had come to power after five civil wars. Israel itself had been conquered by the Roman Empire and the Chosen People had lost their freedom.
For Jesus’ contemporaries, it was certainly not the best of times. To define the fullness of time, then, we should not look to the geopolitical sphere.
Another interpretation is needed, one which views that fullness from God’s standpoint. It is when God decided that the time had come to fulfill his promise, that the fullness of time came for humanity. History does not determine the birth of Christ; rather, his coming into the world enables history to attain its fullness. For this reason, the birth of the Son of God inaugurates a new era, a new computation of time, the era which witnesses the fulfillment of the ancient promise.
As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes:
“God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the world. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word” (1:1-3).
The fullness of time, then, is the presence of God himself in our history. Now we can see his glory, which shines forth in the poverty of a stable; we can be encouraged and sustained by his Word, made “little” in a baby. Thanks to him, our time can find its fullness. The use of our personal time can also find its fullness in the encounter with Jesus Christ, God made man.
Nonetheless, this mystery constantly clashes with the dramatic experience of human history. Each day, as we seek to be sustained by the signs of God’s presence, we encounter new signs to the contrary, negative signs which tend to make us think instead that he is absent. The fullness of time seems to fade before the countless forms of injustice and violence which daily wound our human family.
Sometimes we ask ourselves how it is possible that human injustice persists unabated, and that the arrogance of the powerful continues to demean the weak, relegating them to the most squalid outskirts of our world.
We ask how long human evil will continue to sow violence and hatred in our world, reaping innocent victims. How can the fullness of time have come when we are witnessing hordes of men, women, and children fleeing war, hunger, and persecution, ready to risk their lives simply to encounter respect for their fundamental rights?
A torrent of misery, swollen by sin, seems to contradict the fullness of time brought by Christ. Remember, dear pueri cantores [young singers who met with the Holy Father on New Year’s Eve], this was the third question you asked me yesterday: How do we explain this . . . even children are aware of this.
And yet this swollen torrent is powerless before the ocean of mercy which floods our world. All of us are called to immerse ourselves in this ocean, to let ourselves be reborn, to overcome the indifference which blocks solidarity, and to leave behind the false neutrality which prevents sharing.
The grace of Christ, which brings our hope of salvation to fulfillment, leads us to cooperate with him in building an ever more just and fraternal world, a world in which every person and every creature can dwell in peace, in the harmony of God’s original creation.
At the beginning of a new year, the Church invites us to contemplate Mary’s divine maternity as an icon of peace. The ancient promise finds fulfillment in her person. She believed in the words of the angel, conceived her Son and thus became the Mother of the Lord. Through her, through her “yes,” the fullness of time came about. The Gospel we have just heard tells us that the Virgin Mary “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
She appears to us as a vessel filled to the brim with the memory of Jesus, as the Seat of Wisdom to whom we can have recourse to understand his teaching aright.
Today Mary makes it possible for us to grasp the meaning of events which affect us personally, events which also affect our families, our countries and the entire world. Where philosophical reason and political negotiation cannot arrive, there the power of faith, which brings the grace of Christ’s Gospel, can arrive, opening ever new pathways to reason and to negotiation.
Blessed are you, Mary, for you gave the Son of God to our world. But even more blessed are you for having believed in him. Full of faith, you conceived Jesus first in your heart and then in your womb, and thus became the Mother of all believers (cf. St. Augustine, Sermo 215, 4). Send us, O Mother, your blessing on this day consecrated to your honor. Show us the face of Jesus your Son, who bestows upon the entire world mercy and peace. Amen.

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“We Have Hoped In Thee”

(Here is the ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ homily during the celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica, December 31, of the First Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God.)

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How meaningful it is to be gathered together to praise the Lord at the end of this year!
On many occasions, the Church feels the joy and duty to raise her song to God with these words of praise, which since the fourth century accompany prayer in important moments of her earthly pilgrimage.
It is the joy of thanksgiving that emanates almost spontaneously from our prayer, to recognize the loving presence of God in the events of our history. As often happens, however, we feel that our voice is not enough in prayer. It is in need of reinforcement with the company of the whole People of God, which makes its song of thanksgiving heard in unison.
Therefore, in the Te Deum we ask for the help of the angels, of the prophets and of the whole of creation to praise the Lord. With this hymn, we go over the history of salvation where, by God’s mysterious design, the different events of our life of this past year find a place and synthesis.
The last words of the hymn of the Church assume a special resonance in this Jubilee Year: “Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in thee.” The company of mercy is light to understand better all that we have lived, and hope that accompanies us at the beginning of a new year.
To go over the days of the past year can be either a recalling of facts and events that refer to moments of joy or sorrow, or an endeavor to understand if we have perceived the presence of God who renews and sustains everything with his help.
We are called to verify if the events of the world took place according to the Will of God, or if we have listened primarily to men’s plans, often charged with private interests, insatiable thirst for power and gratuitous violence.
And yet, today our eyes are in need of focusing in a particular way on the signs that God has given us, to touch with our hand the strength of his merciful love. We cannot forget that many days were marked by violence, by death, by the unspeakable suffering of so many innocents, of refugees constrained to leave their homeland, of men, women, and children without a stable dwelling, food, and support.
Yet how many gestures of kindness, of love, and solidarity have filled the days of this year, even if they did not make television news.
Good things do not make news. These signs of love cannot and must not be obscured by the arrogance of evil. Good always conquers, even if at some moments it might seem weaker and hidden.
Our city of Rome is not a stranger to this condition of the whole world. I would like a sincere invitation, to reach all its inhabitants, to go beyond the difficulties of the present moment.
May the commitment to recover the fundamental values of service, honesty, and solidarity enable us to overcome the grave uncertainties that have dominated the scene this year, and which are symptoms of a scarce sense of dedication to the common good.
May the positive contribution of Christian witness never be lacking, to enable Rome, in keeping with its history and with the maternal intercession of Mary Salus Populi Romani, to be the privileged interpreter of faith, of hospitality, of fraternity and of peace.
“We praise you, O God. . . . In you, Lord, we put our trust: we shall not be put to shame.”
(At the end of the celebration of First Vespers in the Basilica, the Holy Father made a brief visit to the Crib, set up next to the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square.)

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