VATICAN CITY, JAN. 7, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of John Paul II’s address at today’s general audience, the first of 2004.
* * *
1. “Alma Redemptoris Mater … Mother of the Redeemer …” Thus we invoke Mary at Christmastide, with an ancient and moving Marian antiphon, which then continues with these words: “‘Tu quae genuisti natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem’ — To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator.”
Mary, Mother of God! This truth of faith, profoundly connected to the Christmas celebrations, is particularly evident in the liturgy of the first day of the year, solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. Mary is the Mother of the Redeemer; she is the woman chosen by God to realize the salvific plan centered on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Divine Word.
2. A humble creature bore the Creator of the world! Christmastide renews our awareness of this mystery, presenting us the Mother of the Son of God as co-participant in the culminating events of the history of salvation. The age-old tradition of the Church has always considered the birth of Jesus and the divine maternity of Mary as two aspects of the Incarnation of the Word. “In fact,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church quoting the Council of Ephesus confirms, “the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God,’ ‘Theotokos'” (No. 495).
3. From the fact that Our Lady is “Mother of God” stem all the other aspects of her mission; aspects that are well evidenced by the titles with which the community of disciples of Christ in every part of the world honor her. First of all that of “Immaculate” and of “Assumed,” as she who would bear the Savior could not be subject to the corruption resulting from original sin.
Moreover, the Virgin is invoked as Mother of the Mystical Body, that is, of the Church. In keeping with the patristic tradition expressed by St. Augustine, the Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that she “is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ’ … since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head” (No. 963).
4. Mary’s whole existence is profoundly connected to that of Jesus. It is she who offers Jesus to humanity at Christmas. On the cross, at the supreme moment of the fulfillment of the redemptive mission, it will be Jesus who will make a gift of his Mother to every human being, as a precious inheritance of redemption.
The words of the crucified Lord to John, the faithful disciple, constitute his testament. He entrusts his Mother to John and, at the same time, entrusts the Apostle and every believer to the love of Mary.
5. In these last days of Christmastide, let us pause to contemplate in the crib the silent presence of the Virgin next to the Child Jesus. The same love, the same concern she had for her divine Son, she reserves for us. Let us allow her, therefore, to guide our steps in the New Year, which Providence gives us to live.
This is my wish for all of you in this first general audience of 2004. Sustained and comforted by her maternal protection, we will be able to contemplate with new eyes the face of Christ and to walk more rapidly on the paths of goodness.
Once again, happy New Year to you here present and to your loved ones!
[Translation by ZENIT]
[At the end of the audience, a collaborator read the following summary in English:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Church’s celebration of the Christmas season centers on the mysteries of Christ’s incarnation and Mary’s divine motherhood. As the Virgin Mother of the Incarnate Word, Mary was from the beginning closely associated with her Son’s saving work. Mary gave Christ to the world at his birth; and from the cross the dying Redeemer entrusted her to the Church and to each believer. In these final days of the Christmas season, let us join Mary in contemplating the newborn Savior and entrust ourselves to her maternal protection during the coming year.
[Then the Pope greeted the English-speaking pilgrims as follows:]
I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s audience, including the groups from Denmark and the United States of America. I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all of you and your families I invoke the Lord’s richest blessings for a peaceful New Year.