Benedict XVI's Address at End of May

«Mary’s Is an Authentic Missionary Journey»

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday evening in the Vatican Gardens before a recitation of the Rosary at the conclusion of the month of May.
 
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
With great joy I join you at the end of this traditional prayer meeting in the Vatican, which concludes the month of May. In reference to today’s liturgy, we wish to contemplate Mary Most Holy in the mystery of the Visitation. In the Virgin Mary who goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, we recognize the most limpid example and the truest meaning of our journey of believers and the journey of the Church herself. The Church is missionary by nature; she is called to proclaim the Gospel everywhere and always, to transmit the faith to every man and woman, and to every culture.
 
«In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah» (Luke 1:39), wrote the evangelist St. Luke. Mary’s is an authentic missionary journey. It is a journey that takes her far from home, drives her to the world, to places that are foreign to her daily customs, makes her reach, in a certain sense, the limits of what she could reach. Herein lies, also for us, the secret of our life as men and as Christians. As had already happened to Abraham, we are asked to come out of ourselves, of the places of our security, to go to others, to different places and realms. It is the Lord who asks this of us: «But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses … to the end of the earth» (Acts 1:8).

And it is always the Lord who, on this journey, places us next to Mary as travel companion and solicitous mother. She gives us security, because she reminds us that her Son Jesus is always with us, according to what he promised: «I am with you always, to the close of the age» (Matthew 28:20).
 
The evangelist recounts that «Mary remained with her (with her cousin Elizabeth) about three months» (Luke 1:56). These simple words explain the most immediate objective of Mary’s journey. She had known through the Angel that Elizabeth was expecting a child and that she was already in her sixth month (cf. Luke 1:36). But Elizabeth was old and the closeness of Mary, still very young, could be useful to her. That is why Mary went to her and remained by her side for almost three months, to offer her this affectionate closeness, that concrete help and all those daily services of which she was in need. Thus Elizabeth becomes the symbol of all elderly and sick persons, more than that, of all persons in need of help and love. And how many there are also today, in our families, in our communities and in our cities! And Mary — who described herself as «the handmaid of the Lord» (Luke 1:38) — makes herself the handmaid of men. More precisely, she serves the Lord whom she finds in brothers.
 
However, Mary’s charity does not stop with concrete aid, but reaches its culmination in giving Jesus himself, in «having one find him.» It is once again St. Luke who stresses it: «And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb» (Luke 1:41). We are, thus, at the heart and culmination of the evangelizing mission. We are in the truest meaning and the most genuine objective of all missionary endeavor: to give men the living and personal Gospel, which is the Lord Jesus himself.

And Jesus’ is a communication and a donation that — as Elizabeth attests — fills the heart with joy: «For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy» (Luke 1:44). Jesus is the true and only treasure that we have to give to humanity. It is of him that the men and women of our time have profound nostalgia, even when they seem to ignore or reject him. It is of him that the society in which we live, Europe, the whole world, is in great need.
 
To us has been entrusted this extraordinary responsibility. Let us live it with joy and commitment, so that ours will truly be a civilization in which truth, justice, liberty and love reign, fundamental and irreplaceable pillars of a true orderly and peaceful coexistence. Let us live this responsibility by being assiduous in listening to the Word of God, in fraternal union, in the breaking of bread and in prayers (cf. Acts 2:42). May this be the grace we pray for together to the Virgin Most Holy this evening. My blessing to all of you.
 [Translation by ZENIT]

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