“Mary teaches us that, in the art of the mission and of hope, many words and programs aren’t necessary,” according to Pope Francis. “Her method is very simple: she walked and sang.”
His remarks came on December 12, 2018, as he presided over the Eucharistic Celebration in the Vatican Basilica, on the occasion of the Liturgical Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe.
When did Mary walk? The Holy Father cited several scenes:
- After the appearance of the Angel.
- To Jesus when the wine ran out at the wedding feast.
- To Golgatha to be at the foot of the cross.
- To Tepeyac to accompany Juan Diego.
“And she sang.” the Pope pointed out. “Mary walks bearing the joy of one who sings the wonders God has done with the lowliness of His handmaid. Like a good Mother, as She passes She inspires singing, giving voice to so many that, in one way or another, felt they couldn’t sing.”
Francis noted that Mary’s life was not marked by being a great leader herself but by helping others to lead. She provides courage and helps others “to live the audacity of faith and hope.”
Here is a translation of the Pope’s homily, delivered in the course of the Mass.
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The Holy Father’s Homily
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for He has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid” (Luke 1:46-48). So begins the song of the Magnificat and, through it, Mary becomes the first “teacher of the Gospel” (CELAM, Puebla, 290). It recalls to us the promises made to our fathers and invites us to sing the mercy of the Lord.
Mary teaches us that, in the art of the mission and of hope, many words and programs aren’t necessary. Her method is very simple: she walked and sang.
She walked. The Gospel presents Her to us thus, after the Angel’s announcement, but not anxious. She walked to Elizabeth’s home, to accompany her in the last stage of her pregnancy. She walked hurriedly to Jesus, when the wine ran out at the wedding and then, with greying hair, because of the passing of the years, she walked to Golgotha, to be at the foot of the cross: in that threshold of darkness and pain, she didn’t efface herself or go away, she walked to be there.
She walked to Tepeyac to accompany Juan Diego and she continues to walk the Continent when through an image or holy card, a candle or a medal, a Rosary or a Hail Mary, she enters a house, a cell in a prison, a room of a hospital, an asylum for the elderly, a school, a rehabilitation clinic . . . to say: “Am I not here, I who am your Mother?” (Nican Mopohua, 119). She, more than anyone, knows the surroundings. She is a woman who walks with the delicacy and tenderness of a mother, is hosted in family life, unties one or another knot of the many wrongs we succeed in generating, and she teaches us to stand in the midst of storms. In Mary’s school, we learn to be on the way to arrive where we should be: at the foot and standing in face of so many lives that have lost or have been robbed of hope. In Mary’s school we learn to walk in the neighbourhood and the city, not with the sneakers of magical solutions, instantaneous answers and immediate effects; not by dint of fantastic promises of a pseudo-progress that, little by little, is only able to usurp cultural and family identities, and empty that vital fabric that has sustained our peoples, and this with the pretension to establish a single and uniform thought. In Mary’s school, we learn to walk in the city and we nourish our heart with the multi-cultural richness that inhabits the Continent, when we are able to listen to that recondite heart that beats in our peoples and that guards — as a little fire under apparent ashes — the sense of God and of His transcendence, the sacredness of life, the respect for Creation, the bonds of solidarity, the art of the joy of good living and the capacity to be happy and to celebrate without conditions (Cf. Meeting with CELAM’s Executive Committee, Colombia, September 7, 2017.
And She sang. Mary walks bearing the joy of one who sings the wonders God has done with the lowliness of His handmaid. Like a good Mother, as She passes She inspires singing, giving voice to so many that, in one way or another, felt they couldn’t sing. She is the one of the word to John — who leaped in his mother’s womb –, the one to give the word to Elizabeth — who begins to bless –, to the elderly Simeon — and make him prophesy –, She teaches the Word His first faltering words.
In Mary’s school, we learn that her life was marked not by leadership but by the capacity to make others leaders. She gives courage, teaches to speak and above all she encourages to live the audacity of faith and hope. Thus she becomes transparency of the Lord’s face, who shows His power by inviting to share and convokes to the building of his living Temple. She did so with little Indian Juan Diego and with so many others, taking them out of anonymity, She gave them voice, made their face and history known, and made them leaders of this, our history of salvation. The Lord doesn’t seek egoistic applause or worldly admiration. His glory lies in making His children actors in Creation. With the heart of a Mother, she seeks to lift and dignify all those that, for different reasons and circumstances, were immersed in abandonment and forgetfulness.
In Mary’s school, we learn a form of leadership that doesn’t need to humiliate, to mistreat, to run down or mock others to feel valuable and important, that doesn’t take recourse to physical or psychological violence to feel safe and protected. It is leadership that doesn’t fear tenderness and caresses, and that knows its best face is service. We learn genuine leadership in her school, to dignify all who have fallen and to do so with the omnipotent strength of Divine Love, which is the irresistible force of His promise of mercy.
In Mary, the Lord rejects the temptation to give leadership to the force of intimidation and power, to the cry of the strongest or to make oneself valuable on the basis of lying and manipulation. With Mary, the Lord guards believers, so that their heart is not hardened and they are able to know constantly the renewed and renewing strength of solidarity, able to hear God’s beating in the heart of the men an women of our nations. Mary, “teacher of the Gospel,” walked and sang through our Continent and so the Virgin of Guadalupe is not only recognized as Indian, Spanish, Hispanic or Afro-American. She is simply Latin American: Mother of a fertile and generous land in which all, in one way or another, can encounter one another carrying out a leadership role in the building of the Holy Temple of the family of God.
Latin American son and brother, sing and walk without fear as your Mother did.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Spanish] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]