Entangled in life’s knots? Lift your eyes up to Mary.
Pope Francis gave this New Year’s advice in his homily in St. Peter’s Basilica the morning of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on New Year’s Day, which also marked the World Day of Peace.
Recalling in Luke’s Gospel that: “All who heard were amazed at what the shepherds told them,” the Pope stressed that at the conclusion of the Octave of Christmas, as we continue to contemplate the Child born for us, “lacking everything yet abounding in love,” what is asked of us today is to be amazed.
“Amazement is what we should feel at the beginning of each year, for life is a gift that constantly gives us a chance to make a new start.”
Today, the Pope underscored, is also a day to be amazed by the Mother of God. Reflecting on the Good News of this New Year, Francis said:
“God is no distant lord, dwelling in splendid isolation above the heavens, but love incarnate, born like us of a mother, in order to become a brother to each of us.”
“He rests on the lap of his mother, who is also our mother, and from there he pours out upon humanity a new tenderness,” he said. “Thus we come to understand more fully God’s love, which is both paternal and maternal, like that of a mother who never stops believing in her children and never abandons them. God-with-us, Emmanuel, loves us despite our mistakes, our sins, and the way we treat our world.”
God believes in mankind, the Holy Father said, “because its first and preeminent member is his own Mother.”
“At the beginning of the year, let us implore from Mary the grace to be amazed at the God of surprises. Let us renew the amazement we felt when faith was first born in us,” he said, reminding the Mother of God helps us.
“She, the Theotókos, who gave birth to the Lord, now presents us, reborn, to the Lord,” the Pope stressed, reminding: “She is a mother who generates in her children the amazement of faith. Without amazement, life becomes dull and routine, and so it is with faith.”
Entangled in Life’s Knots, Lift Our Eyes to Our Lady
“Let us allow ourselves to be gazed upon. Especially in times of need, when we are entangled in life’s knots, we rightly lift our eyes to Our Lady. Yet first, we should let ourselves be gazed upon by Our Lady. When she gazes upon us, she does not see sinners but children.”
The Holy Father recalled that many say the eyes are the mirror of the soul, and hence, the eyes of Mary, full of grace, reflect the beauty of God, and show us a reflection of heaven.
“The eyes of Our Lady are able to bring light to every dark corner; everywhere they rekindle hope. As she gazes upon us, she says: “Take heart, dear children; here I am, your Mother!”
This maternal gaze, which instills confidence and trust, he said, helps us to grow in faith. “Faith is a bond with God that engages the whole person; to be preserved, it needs the Mother of God.”
“A world that looks to the future without a mother’s gaze is shortsighted,” the Pope underscored, reminding: “The human family is built upon mothers. A world in which maternal tenderness is dismissed as mere sentiment may be rich materially, but poor where the future is concerned.”
The Holy Father prayed: “Mother of God, teach us to see life as you do. Turn your gaze upon us, upon our misery, our poverty. Turn to us thine eyes of mercy. Let us allow ourselves to be embraced.”
Our Lady, Francis explained, took everything to heart. “She embraced everything, events both good and bad. And she pondered all these things; she brought them before God. This was her secret. In the same way, she now takes to heart the life of each of us: she wants to embrace our every situation and to present it to God.”
In today’s fragmented world, where we risk losing our bearings, a Mother’s embrace is essential. How much dispersion and solitude there is all around us! The world is completely connected, yet seems increasingly disjointed. We need to entrust ourselves to our Mother. “Our Lady embraces any number of concrete situations; she is present wherever she is needed.”
The Pope encouraged us to allow ourselves to be taken by the hand:”Mothers take their children by the hand and lovingly introduce them to life,” he said, lamenting: “But how many children today wander off on their own and lose their way.” We need to learn from mothers, he said, that heroism is shown in self-giving, strength in compassion, wisdom in meekness.
God Himself Needed a Mother
“God himself needed a Mother: how much more so do we! Jesus himself gave her to us, from the cross: “Behold your mother!” (Jn 19:27). He said this to the beloved disciple and to every disciple.
“Our Lady is not an optional accessory: she has to be welcomed into our life,” he said, praying: “Mary, take us by the hand. Clinging to you, we will pass safely through the straits of history.”
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