By Roberta Sciamplicotti
ROME, DEC. 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas, Mary is a precious "guide of our waiting."
Archbishop Vincenzo Pelvi, prelate for the Italian armed forces, affirmed this last Friday when presiding over a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the feast of the Virgin of Loreto, who for 90 years has been patroness of the Air Force.
Some 5,000 Air Force personnel were there, accompanied by the chief of staff of defense, Vincenzo Camporini, and the chief of staff of the Air Force, Giuseppe De Bernardis.
"In a few days it will be Christmas and our thoughts go to the Holy House of Loreto, where the birth of Christ, his earthly life, humble and hidden, is meditated and rediscovered, in a certain sense in a palpable personal experience, which moves and transforms," Archbishop Pelvi said in the homily.
"Christmas is approaching and we feel unprepared," the 62-year-old prelate reflected. "But the liturgy gives us the Virgin Mary as guide of our waiting.
"Only women, only mothers know about waiting: It is physically inscribed in their bodies. And they teach that one waits not because of an absence to fill, but because of a superabundance of life, which now urges within. One waits to generate."
Choice of love
God's choice of Mary, the archbishop continued, "is pure grace and gratuitousness."
"It is love, and love is not explained," he said. "It is proved only, also through what is inexplicable. If love could be explained, it would no longer be love."
Archbishop Pelvi noted how "the Lord has always given himself to little ones; he is on the side of the humble, he hears the prayer of the poor. Littleness and humility attract him in an irresistible way."
"God chose insignificant Nazareth, and not a great and rich capital; he chose little Mary and not the daughter of a great commander. He chose Joseph the carpenter, and not an important man of affairs. It is the logic that runs through Scripture, from the beginning to the end," he added.
Pronouncing her "yes," Mary denied herself, and decided to let God alone act. "Every renunciation done with love is fruitful from the moment that it gives way to the will of the Lord," said the military prelate.
"God comes but does not impose himself, he is sought. He is as close as life and breath, as air and thought," the archbishop said. "But he will be received and generated only by one who is able to live in himself the commitment to be a servant."
Itinerary of hope
Mary's experience "delineates the itinerary of hope," continued Archbishop Pelvi.
"With her," he said, "there appeared in the world a creature who was only goodness, a hand incapable of striking, a word incapable of wounding, a threatened yet victorious innocence, a gesture that does not enclose an ambiguity, a look that never loses the innocence of its brilliance; a heart without divisions, a virginity without regret; a maternity that is not possessive; a spouse who loves in total dedication and tenderness."
The Virgin of Loreto "is a gentle and reassuring presence," the prelate continued. "She watches constantly and repeats to each one: You are loved, God chose you before the creation of the world. [...] And now he is with you, he fills your life; you will be loved forever."
Archbishop Pelvi proposed that the message the Virgin desires to give us today is that we be not afraid, because "Jesus has conquered evil, he has conquered it at the roots, liberating us from its dominion."
"How much in need we are of this beautiful news," exclaimed the military prelate, attesting that every day through the media "evil is recounted, repeated and amplified, accustoming us to the most horrible things, making us become insensitive and, in some way, intoxicating us, because the negative is not fully disposed of and it accumulates day after day."
But with her presence, he continued, Mary "speaks to us of God and induces us to wait even in more difficult human situations, reawakening in us the desire to be accepted as persons, because every human story is a sacred story, and requires the greatest respect."
"'Fear not,' the angel says to Mary and to each one of us," the archbishop reflected. "Do not be afraid to give freely that very awaited forgiveness; do not be afraid to respond to indifference with love; do not be afraid to begin again at the beginning: You do not know your errors; do not be afraid to give yourself with your 'yes' to one who loves you and waits for you; do not be afraid because the Lord is with you and no one will be able to snatch you from his hand."
The prelate said that Mary teaches us "to open ourselves to the action of God, to look at others as she does, that is, from the heart. And to look at them with mercy, with love, with infinite tenderness, especially those who are most alone, scorned and exploited."
"She reminds us that before God we do not have to be the best, the splendid, the first in the class; that at least before him credit cards do not count, or academic titles or influential friends," Archbishop Pelvi concluded. "Before God what counts is love, humility, and the willingness to allow oneself to be molded and remolded by his hand."
By Roberta Sciamplicotti