By Vatican News
The last time a Pope celebrated Mass in the Cathedral of St Joseph in Bucharest was on the 8th of May 1999. That was exactly 20 years ago, and the Pope was St John Paul II.
On Friday afternoon, Pope Francis celebrated his first Mass in Romania and reflected on the feast of the day: the Visitation of Our Lady to her cousin Elizabeth. In his homily, he invited us to contemplate what he called three precious elements: “Mary journeys, Mary encounters, Mary rejoices”.
Mary journeys to the house of Elizabeth. It was the first of many, said the Pope, culminating in the journey to Calvary. All of them have one thing in common, he said: “they were never easy; they always required courage and patience”.
Our Lady knows what it means to walk uphill, continued Pope Francis, “she knows what it is to be weary of walking and she can take us by the hand amid our difficulties”. Contemplating Mary allows us to “turn our gaze to all those many women, mothers and grandmothers of these lands who, by their quiet sacrifices, devotion and self-denial, are shaping the present and preparing the way for tomorrow’s dreams”, he said. “Theirs is a silent, tenacious and unsung sacrifice”.
Mary encounters Elizabeth, a younger woman going to meet an older one, “seeking her roots”, said the Pope. “Here, young and old meet, embrace and awaken the best of each”. The Pope described this as “a miracle brought about by the culture of encounter, where no one is discarded or pigeonholed, but all are sought out, because all are needed to reveal the Lord’s face”.
The culture of encounter urges us as Christians “to experience the miraculous motherhood of the Church”, said Pope Francis, “as she seeks out, protects and gathers her children. In the Church, when different rites meet, when the most important thing is not one’s own affiliation, group or ethnicity, but the People that together praises God, then great things take place”, he added. “Blessed are those who believe and who have the courage to foster encounter and communion”.
Mary rejoices because she is carrying Jesus in her womb. “Without joy, we remain paralyzed, slaves to our unhappiness”, said Pope Francis.
“Faith wavers when it just floats along in sadness and discouragement”, he said. “When we live in mistrust, closed in on ourselves, we contradict the faith. Instead of realizing that we are God’s children for whom He does great things, we reduce everything to our own problems”.
This is where we find the secret of our joy, said the Pope: “Mary, lowly and humble, starts from God’s greatness and despite her problems – which were not few – she is filled with joy, for she entrusts herself to the Lord in all things. She reminds us that God can always work wonders if we open our hearts to Him and to our brothers and sisters”.
“Mary journeys, encounters and rejoices because she carries something greater than herself”, concluded Pope Francis: “She is the bearer of a blessing”.