Pope Francis welcomes New Year with a sermon
Pope Francis welcomed the New Year with a solemn morning mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, calling the faithful to look to Mary as a Mother to all and messenger of hope. In his homily, the Solemnity of the Mother of God, Pope Francis said “there is no more meaningful time than the beginning of a new year” to hear God’s blessing “The Lord bless you and keep you…. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” He also said “these words of strength, courage and hope will accompany our journey through the year opening up before us”.
But, the Pope warned, this is not an illusory hope based on human frail promises or a naïve hope which presumes that the future will be better simply because it is the future. Rather, he reminded the faithful, it is a hope based on God’s blessing, containing the greatest message of good wishes there can be and this is the message which the Church brings to each of us. The Pope stressed, “was fully realized in a woman, Mary, who was destined to become the Mother of God.”
“Mother of God is the first and most important title of Our Lady,” Pope Francis said, noting that in their devotion to her from early times, the faithful had understood this from the beginning. He recalled the ancient Council of Ephesus which authoritatively defined the divine motherhood of the Virgin Mary and later the first Marian shrine in Rome and the entire West which was erected in devotion to her in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Mary is our Mother too, the Pope reminded us, “ever since Jesus, dying on the Cross, gave her to us as our Mother, saying ‘Behold your Mother!’”
Through the most difficult and trying times, Mary’s “sorrowing heart was enlarged to make room for all men and women, whether good or bad,” the Pope said and she communicates “her maternal affection to each and every person… a source of hope and true joy.”
Inviting the faithful to entrust to her “the journey of faith, the desires of our heart, our needs and the needs of the whole world, especially of those who hunger and thirst for justice and peace," Pope Francis said by Mary’s “example of humility and openness to God’s will she helps us to transmit our faith in a joyful proclamation of the Gospel to all, without reservation.” And turning towards the statue of Our Lady near the high altar, Pope Francis invoked her three times, repeating forcefully: “Holy Mother of God!”
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