Sciatica has forced Pope Francis to delegate the celebration of the Mass on the solemnity of the Mother of God and 54th World Day of Peace, on the theme "The culture of care as a path to peace". “Speaking badly corrupts and decays, whereas blessing restores life and gives the strength needed to begin anew”. “We are not in the world to die, but to give life”. “This will be a good year if we take care of others, as Our Lady does with us”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "To be blessed", "be born", "find": these are the three verbs that Pope Francis traced in today's liturgy, dedicated to the solemnity of the Mother of God. The pontiff was unable to preside over mass, due to a bad bout of sciatica. The Eucharist was celebrated by Secretary of State, Card. Pietro Parolin, at the altar of confession in St. Peter's Basilica.
At the time of the homily, the cardinal read the homily prepared by Francis for the occasion.
The first verb, "to be blessed", refers to the first reading of the Mass (Numbers 6,22-27). “The Lord - Francis explains - The Lord knows how much we need to be blessed. The first thing he did after creating the world was to say that everything was good (bene-dicere) and to say of us that that we were very good. Now, however, with the Son of God we receive not only words of blessing, but the blessing itself: Jesus is himself the blessing of the Father.”
"The the Son of God, who is “blessed” by nature, …comes to us through his Mother, “blessed” by grace...”
Our Lady teaches us that blessings are received in order to be given. She, who was blessed, became a blessing for all those whom she met: for Elizabeth, for the newlyweds at Cana, for the Apostles in the Upper Room… We too are called to bless, to “speak well” in God’s name. Our world is gravely polluted by the way we “speak” and think “badly” of others, of society, of ourselves. Speaking badly corrupts and decays, whereas blessing restores life and gives the strength needed to begin anew. Let us ask the Mother of God for the grace to be joyful bearers of God’s blessing to others, as she is to us”.
The second verb, “to be born”, means that “that the Lord was born like us. He did not appear on the scene as an adult, but as a child. He came into the world not on his own, but from a woman, after nine months in the womb of his Mother, from whom he allowed his humanity to be shaped." For this reason, Mary "is not only the bridge joining us to God; she is more. She is the road that God travelled in order to reach us, and the road that we must travel in order to reach him. Through Mary, we encounter God the way he wants us to: in tender love, in intimacy, in the flesh".
“We are in this world not to die, but to give life. The holy Mother of God teaches us that the first step in giving life to those around us is to cherish it within ourselves. Today’s Gospel tells us that Mary “kept all these things in her heart” (cf. Lk 2:19). Goodness comes from the heart. How important it is to keep our hearts pure, to cultivate our interior life and our prayer! How important it is to educate our hearts to care, to cherish the persons and things around us. Everything starts from this: from cherishing others, the world and creation.”
The theme of "care" is linked to the fact that today is also the 54th World Day of Peace, this year on the theme "The culture of care as a path to peace".
The Pope writes: “What good is it to know many persons and things if we fail to cherish them? This year, while we hope for new beginnings and new cures, let us not neglect care. Together with a vaccine for our bodies, we need a vaccine for our hearts. That vaccine is care. This will be a good year if we take care of others, as Our Lady does with us.”
The third verb, "to find", recalls "that the shepherds" found Mary and Joseph and the child "(v. 16). They did not find prodigious and spectacular signs, but a simple family. There, however, they truly found God, who is greatness in smallness, strength in tenderness”.
Francis concluded: “What about ourselves? What are we called to find at the beginning of this year? It would be good to find time for someone. Time is a treasure that all of us possess, yet we guard it jealously, since we want to use it only for ourselves. Let us ask for the grace to find time for God and for our neighbour – for those who are alone or suffering, for those who need someone to listen and show concern for them. If we can find time to give, we will be amazed and filled with joy, like the shepherds. May Our Lady, who brought God into the world of time, help us to be generous with our time. Holy Mother of God, to you we consecrate this New Year. You, who know how to cherish things in your heart, care for us, bless our time, and teach us to find time for God and for others. With joy and confidence, we acclaim you: Holy Mother of God! Holy Mother of God! Holy Mother of God!”