Man’s encounter with God is “an encounter that is not marked by amazing miracles but, rather, is marked by faith and charity,” Pope Francis said on December 23, 2018. “Mary, in fact, is blessed because she believed; the encounter with God is the fruit of faith.”
The Holy Father’s remarks came before praying the noonday Angelus with a crowd of some 20,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. He focused on Mary and her visit to her cousin Elizabeth following the Annunciation (LK 1:39-45). Francis contrasted the circumstances of Mary, who had faith, and Elizabeth’s husband, Zachariah, who had doubts.
“Zachariah, instead, who doubted and didn’t believe, remained deaf-mute, to grow in faith during the long silence: without faith, we remain inevitably deaf to God’s consoling voice,” the Pope explained. “And we remain incapable of pronouncing words of consolation and hope for our brothers.
“And we see it every day: people that don’t have faith or who have very little faith, when they must approach a person who is suffering say circumstantial words but are unable to reach the heart because they lack strength. They don’t have strength because they don’t have faith, and if they don’t have faith, the words don’t come that reach others’ heart.”
Francis went on to explain that faith “is nourished in charity.” Mary – always concerned for others – went to see Elizabeth and offer her comfort.
“The event of Jesus’ birth began thus, with a simple gesture of charity; after all, genuine charity is always the fruit of the love of God,” the Pope said. “This episode helps us to read with an altogether particular light the mystery of man’s encounter with God; an encounter that is not marked by amazing miracles but, rather, is marked by faith and charity.
“Mary, in fact, is blessed because she believed; the encounter with God is the fruit of faith. Zachariah, instead, who doubted and didn’t believe, remained deaf-mute, to grow in faith during the long silence: without faith, we remain inevitably deaf to God’s consoling voice.”
The Holy Father lamented that people who lack faith struggle daily to assist a person who is suffering. The lack of faith, however, can be strengthened by the offering of charity.
“The Gospel of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth…prepares us to live Christmas well, communicating to one another the dynamism of faith and of charity,” Francis concluded. “This dynamism is the work of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit of Love that fecundated Mary’s virginal womb and that drove Her to run to the service of Her elderly kinswoman. A dynamism full of joy, as is seen in the meeting between the two mothers, which is altogether a joyous hymn of exultance in the Lord, who does great things with little ones who trust Him.”