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Dear brothers and sisters, hello,
This second Sunday of Advent falls on the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and so our gaze is drawn to the beauty of the Mother of Jesus, our Mother! With great joy the Church contemplates the one who is “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), and beginning with these words let us all greet her together: “full of grace.” Let us say “Full of grace!” 3 times. Everybody: Full of grace! Full of grace! Full of grace! And this is how God saw her from the very beginning in his plan of love. He saw her as beautiful, full of grace. Our Mother is beautiful! Mary helps us on our journey toward Christmas, because she teaches us how to live this season of Advent in expectation of the Lord, because this season of Advent is one in which we wait for the Lord, who will visit us all on that feast but who will also visit everyone in his heart. The Lord is coming! Let us await him!
The Gospel of St. Luke presents Mary, a girl of Nazareth, a little place in Galilee, at the margins of the Roman Empire and at the margins of Israel, a small town. And yet upon her, that girl of that distant little town, upon her, the Lord’s gaze fell. He had chosen her beforehand to be the mother of his Son. In view of this maternity Mary was preserved from original sin, that is, from that fracture in communion with God, with others and with creation that wounds every human being deep down. But this fracture was healed beforehand in the Mother of him who has come to free us from the slavery of sin. Mary the Immaculate is inscribed in God’s plan; she is the fruit of the love of God that saves the world.
And Our Lady never distanced herself from that love: her whole life, her whole being is a “yes” to that love, it is a “yes” to God. But it certainly was not easy for her! When the angel called her “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), she was “very disturbed,” because in her humility she feels that she is nothing before God. The angel comforts her: “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God. And, behld, you will conceive a son … and you will call him Jesus (1:30). This announcement upsets her all the more, also because she was not yet married to Joseph; but the angel adds: “The Holy Spirit will descend upon you … because he who will be born will be holy called Son of God” (1:35). Mary listens, obeys interiorly and answers: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to your word” (1:38).
The mystery of this girl of Nazareth, which is in the heart of God, is not foreign to us. She is not there while we are here. No, we are bound together. In fact, God looks with love upon every man and woman! With a first and last name. He looks with love upon each one of us. The apostle Paul says that God “chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and immaculate” (Ephesians 1:4). We too have always been chosen by God to live a holy life, free of sin. It is a plan of love that God renews every time we come to him, especially in the Sacraments.
On this feast, then, contemplating our beautiful Immaculate Mother, we also recognize our truest destiny, our deepest vocation: being loved, being transformed by love, being transformed by the beauty of God. Let us look at her, our Mother, and let her look at us, because she is our Mother and she loves us very much; let her look at us so that we can learn how to be more humble, and more courageous too in following the Word of God, in welcoming the tender embrace of Jesus his Son, an embrace that gives us life, hope and peace.[Following the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present:]
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet all of you with affection, especially the families, the parish groups and associations. I greet the faithful from Biella, Cossato, Bianzé, Lomazzo, Livorno Ferraris, Rocca di Papa, San Marzano sul Sarno and Pratola Serra.
We spiritually join with the Church in North America, which today remembers the foundation of its first parish, 350 years ago: Notre Dame de Québec. Let us give thanks for the journey that has been taken since then, especially for the saints and martyrs who fructified those lands. From my heart I bless all the faithful who celebrate this jubilee.
A special thought goes out to the members of Italian Catholic Action – there they are – who today renew their membership in that association. I wish them every good in their apostolic and formative work. Forward, with courage!
This afternoon, following an ancient tradition, I will go to the Piazza di Spagna, to pray at the foot of the monument of Mary Immaculate. I ask you to join with me spiritually on this journey, which is an act of filial devotion to Mary, to entrust the city of Rome to her, the Church and all of humanity. On the return I will stop for a moment at Santa Maria Maggiore to greet the Salus Populi Romani (Salvation of the People of Rome, i.e., Mary) and pray for all of you, for all Romans.
I wish everyone a good Sunday and happy feast of our Mother. Have good lunch and I will see you soon.[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]