By Linda Bordoni
Addressing the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus on the 4th Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis reflected the figure of Mary whom he described as a model of faith and charity.
Reflecting on the Gospel reading of the day that tells of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, he said that the Holy Spirit gave the Virgin the strength and energy “to go to the service of her elderly relative”.
‘Blessed are you who believed’
The Pope described the meeting between the two expectant mothers during which Elizabeth praised Mary's faith saying “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled”.
He mentioned the contrast between Mary, who had faith, and Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband who did not believe the angel’s promise and for this reason remained deaf, dumb and silent until John’s birth.
Our encounter with God is the fruit of faith
This episode, Pope Francis said, shines a “very special light the mystery of man's encounter with God” and shows us that our encounter with God is the fruit of faith.
He explained that it is an encounter that is not marked by astonishing wonders, but rather by faith and charity. Mary, in fact, is blessed, he added, because she believed, while Zechariah who doubted and did not believe, remained deaf and dumb, and then grew in faith during a long silence.
Without faith, he said, there is a lack of strength to speak to those who suffer.
Faith is nourished by charity
Faith, the Pope continued, “is nourished by charity” and he commented on the fact that the evangelist says that Mary went quickly to visit Elizabeth with a gesture that was full of care.
“She could have stayed at home to prepare for the birth of her son, instead she cared more about others than about herself, a fact that shows she was already a disciple of the Lord she carried in her womb” he said.
Thus, the event of Jesus’ birth began with a simple gesture of charity, the Pope said, pointing out that charity is always the fruit of God's love.
Not “I” at the center, but our brothers and sisters in need
This Sunday's Gospel, Francis concluded, “prepares us to live Christmas well, communicating the dynamism of faith and charity”.
“It is a dynamic and positive attitude that is full of joy, as can be seen in the encounter between the two mothers-to-be" Pope Francis said, inviting all Christians to put the needs of others at the heart of Christmas festivities and to make space for Love “which even today wants to become flesh and come and live amongst us”.