VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus.
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Dear brothers and sisters!
On this Fourth and last Sunday of Advent this year the liturgy presents us with the account of the angel’s announcement to Mary. Contemplating the wondrous image of the Holy Virgin in the moment in which she receives the divine message and gives her answer, we are enlightened within by the always-new light of truth that shines forth from that mystery. For a brief moment I would like to reflect in particular on the importance of Mary’s virginity, of the fact that she conceived Jesus remaining a virgin.
In the background of the event of Nazareth there is the prophecy of Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, who will be called Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). This ancient promise found an overflowing fulfillment in the Incarnation of the Son of God. In fact, not only did the virgin conceive but she did so by the power of the Holy Spirit, that is, by the power of God himself. The human being who begins to live in her womb takes flesh from Mary, but his existence comes totally from God. He is fully man, made from the earth — to use a biblical symbol — but comes from above, from heaven. That Mary conceives while remaining a virgin is essential for knowing Jesus and for our faith, because it shows that the initiative is God’s and above all it reveals who it is that is conceived. As the Gospel says: “For this reason he who will be born will be holy and will be called Son of God” (Luke 1:35). In this sense, the virginity of Mary and the divinity of Jesus are reciprocally guaranteed.
This is why the one question that Mary, “greatly disturbed,” asks the angel is so important: “How can this be since I do not know man?” (Luke 1:34). In her simplicity Mary is very wise: She does not doubt God’s power, but wants to understand his will better so that she can completely conform to this will. Mary is infinitely surpassed by the mystery and yet, she perfectly occupies the post that she is assigned at its center. Her heart and her mind are completely humble, and, precisely because of her singular humility, God awaits this young woman’s “yes” to realize his design. He respects her freedom. Mary’s “yes” implies both maternity and virginity, and it desires that everything in her is for God’s glory, and that the Son whom she will bear will be wholly the gift of grace.
Dear friends, Mary’s virginity is unique and unrepeatable, but its spiritual significance regards every Christian. It, in substance, is linked to faith: In fact, those who deeply trust in the love of God welcome Jesus within themselves, his divine life, through the action of the Holy Spirit. This is the mystery of Christmas! I hope that you will all live it with profound joy.[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]