By Vatican News staff reporter
Holy Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God, was celebrated on the morning of New Year’s Day by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, standing in for Pope Francis, who is suffering a painful attack of sciatica.
In his homily, which was read by Cardinal Parolin, Pope Francis focused on three words from the day’s readings: to bless, to be born, and to find, which he said “find their fulfillment in the Mother of God.”
Beginning with the first Reading, where God commands Moses to bless the people, Pope Francis writes, “This is no pious exhortation: it is a specific request.” We need to be blessed, the Pope said; and at Christmas, we receive “not only the words of blessing, but the blessing itself: Jesus is Himself the blessing of the Father.”
Whereas Jesus is the blessing, Mary is blessed through grace, and “in this way, brings us God’s blessing. Wherever she is, Jesus comes to us,” the Pope said. Similarly we too are called to bless, to speak well, of others, of society, and of ourselves, especially in a world so often “polluted” by speaking and thinking badly.
To be born
In the second Reading, Saint Paul tells us Jesus was “born of a woman.” “In these few words," said Pope Francis, “he tells us something amazing: that the Lord was born like us.” Jesus was conceived and shaped in Mary’s womb. Mary, said Pope Francis, “is not only the bridge joining us to God; she is much more. She is the road God travelled in order to reach us, and the road that we must travel in order to reach Him.”
Pope Francis continued, saying, “We are in this world not to die but to give live.” Mary is an example for us, “keeping all these things in our heart.” From her we can learn “how important it is to keep our hearts pure, to cultivate our interior life and our prayer.” When we do, we will be able to truly care for, “to cherish others, the world, and creation.”
In this new year, the Pope said, “while we hope for new beginnings and new cures, let us not neglect care. Together with a vaccine for our bodies, we need a vaccine for our hearts. That vaccine is care.” He added, “This will be a good year if we take care of others, as Our Lady does with us.”
The third verb Pope Francis reflected on is “to find.” At the first Christmas, the shepherds, led by grace, found God, not “in miraculous signs, but in a simple family.” We, too, need grace to find Jesus; and once we have found Him, “we must not lose sight of Him.”
In this new year, we are called, like the shepherds, to be active in order to receive grace. In this new year, Pope Francis said, “it would be good to find time for someone.” “Time is a treasure that all of us possess,” he continued, but that we often guard jealously. Instead, “Let us ask for the grace to find time for those who need someone to listen and show concern for them.” He said, “If we can find time to give, we will be amazed and filled with joy, like the shepherds.”
Pope Francis’ homily concluded with a prayer: “May Our Lady, who brought God into the world of time, help us to be generous with our time”:
Holy Mother of God, to you we consecrate this New Year. You, who know how to cherish things in your heart, care for us, bless our time, and teach us to find time for God and for others. With joy and confidence, we acclaim you: Holy Mother of God! Holy Mother of God! Holy Mother of God!