By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Pope Francis closed the calendar year with Evening Prayer, adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and the singing of the Te Deum in St Peter’s Basilica on Monday evening. Reflecting on the short reading from Evening Prayer for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, Pope Francis focused on the phrases “fullness of time” and “to redeem”.
Fullness of time
Pope Francis began saying the Apostle Paul wrote that in the “fullness of time” God sent His Son not only born of a woman but born under the Mosaic Law. “How can this be the sign of the ‘fullness of time’?” Pope Francis asked. Though He began invisibly and insignificantly it would only be thirty years before Jesus would “unleash an unheard-of power, which still endures and will endure for all of history. This power is called Love. It is love that gives fullness to everything, even to time”, the Pope said. In Jesus, God concentrated all of His love.
Born to redeem
Jesus was born to accomplish the mission given to Him by His Father: to redeem. To “redeem”, Pope Francis explained, “is to liberate from a condition of slavery and restore the freedom, dignity and that liberty proper to children ”. It is from the “ancient slavery to sin” that the human heart is liberated and our dignity restored, he said.
Pope Francis then stopped to reflect on the condition of homelessness faced by at least ten thousand people in Rome. He called their condition a form of slavery “unworthy of the human person”. Jesus too “was born in a similar condition, not by chance or by accident”, the Pope said, “but to demonstrate God’s love for the lowly and the poor”.
Pope Francis said he wants to encourage a model of maternity for the Feast of Mary’s Divine Maternity. It is a model of a Church that draws near people within their lived reality, rather than simply looking on and offering help in some way. It is recognizing that through a woman we received “the fullness of our humanity, ‘the adoption as children’”. Jesus’ abasement raised us up, His lowliness made us great, His weakness made us strong. Because Jesus became a servant “we have received freedom”, the Pope said.
Love is His name
In conclusion, Pope Francis said,
“What name can be given to all this if not Love ? The Love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, to whom this evening holy Mother Church lifts up her hymn of praise and thanksgiving.”