Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Church is a "mother" who offers her children the Gospel and the grace of the Sacraments, guiding them on the path of salvation and defending them "against the dangers arising from the presence of Satan in the world, to bring them to an encounter with Jesus". A mother who "suffers" for and is "proud" of her "persecuted children".
to devote to the general audience
catechesis to the Church, Pope Francis today spoke about the concept of the
motherhood of the Church. In his greetings in Arabic, addressing in particular the
Iraqi pilgrims, he said that "the Church is proud to have children like you,
you are her strength and the concrete and authentic witness of her message of
salvation, of forgiveness and love". Addressing the Poles, on the other
hand, the Pope remembered the 75th anniversary of the start of World War II, "we
entrust to the mercy of God - he said - those
who have died for love of country and fellow man, and we invoke the gift of
peace for all nations of Europe and the world, through the intercession of
Mary, Queen of Peace. "
The Pope had previously toured at length among the 50 thousand people in St Peter's Square, to whom he repeated the principle that he has expressed several times: "you do not become a Christian on your own, by your own efforts. You cannot become a Christian in the laboratory, instead the Christian is generated within that great body which is the Church. In this sense the Church is truly a mother, our mother Church - it's nice to say so: our mother Church - a mother who gives us life in Christ and makes us live with all our brothers and sisters in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit".
"In this motherhood - he continued - the Church has as its model the Virgin Mary, the highest and most beautiful model that we can have. This was already brought to light by the first Christian communities and admirably expressed by the Second Vatican Council. The motherhood of Mary is certainly unique, singular, and was accomplished in the fullness of time, when the Virgin gave birth to the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, the Church's motherhood is placed right in continuity with that of Mary, as its prolongation in history. The Church, in the fruitfulness of the Spirit, continues to generate new children in Christ, always attentive to the Word of God and in obedience to His plan of love. The Church is mother. The birth of Jesus in Mary's womb is a prelude to the rebirth of every Christian in the womb of the Church, since Christ is the firstborn of many brothers and sisters and our first brother Jesus is born of Mary, he is the model, and all we were born in the Church. Thus we can understand the depths of the relationship that unites Mary and the Church: looking to Mary, we find the most beautiful and the most tender face of the Church; and looking to the Church, we recognize the sublime features of Mary. But, we Christians, we are not orphans, we have a mother, we have the mother, and this is great! We are not orphans! The Church is our mother, Mary is our mother".
"The Church - the Pope said - is our mother because she has given birth to us in Baptism. Whenever we baptize a child, they become the child of the Church, they come into the Church. And from that day on, like a caring mother, the Church makes us grow in faith and indicates to us, by the power of the Word of God, the path of salvation, defending us from evil. The Church received the precious treasure of the Gospel from Jesus not to keep it for itself, but to gift it generously to others, just as a mother does. The motherhood of the Church is especially manifest in the service of evangelization, committed, as a mother is, to offering her children the spiritual nourishment that nourishes and makes Christian life fruitful. Everyone, therefore, is called to accept the Word of God that the Church dispenses every day with an open mind and heart, because this Word has the ability to change us from within".
"Only the Word of God has the ability to change us from deep within, from our deepest roots. The Word of God has this power, and who gives us the Word of God? Mother Church, she nurses us from childhood with this Word, she raises us throughout our whole life with this Word, and this is great! Mother Church changes us from the inside with the Word of God. The Word of God mother Church gives us transforms us, so our humanity does not yearn for the worldliness of the flesh, but for the Spirit".
"In her motherly concern - said Francis - the Church strives to show believers the path to follow in order to live a life of joy and peace. Illuminated by the light of the Gospel and upheld by the grace of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, we can guide our choices towards good and overcome times of darkness and the more tortuous paths in life - which there are many of - with courage and hope. The path of salvation, upon which the Church guides us and accompanies us with the power of the Gospel and the support of the Sacraments, gives us the ability to defend ourselves from evil. The Church has the courage of a mother who knows that she must protect her children from the dangers resulting from the presence of Satan in the world, to lead them to an encounter with Jesus. A mother always defends her children". "This defense is also urging them to be watchful and guard against the deception and seduction of evil. Because even if God has conquered Satan, he always comes back with his temptations - we know it, we are all tempted, we were tempted and we are tempted. It is up to us not to be naive, he is 'like a roaring lion' says the apostle Peter. It is up to us not to be not to be naive but vigilant and to stand firm in the faith. We can resist with the advice of our mother, we can resist with the 'help of mother Church, who like a good mother always accompanies her children in difficult times".
"This is the Church, this is the Church that we all love, this is the Church that I love: a mother who has the welfare of her children at heart and who is able to give her life for her children. We must not forget, however, that the Church is not just priests, or us bishops, no, we are all Church! Do you agree? and also we are all children, but also mothers of other Christians. All the baptized, both men and women, together we are the Church. How often in life we fail to give witness to the Churches' motherhood, the Churches' maternal courage! How often we are cowards, No? then let us entrust ourselves to Mary, so that as the mother of our first brother, the first-born Jesus, she may teach us to have her same maternal spirit towards our brothers and sisters, with the capacity to sincerely welcome them, to forgive, to give strength and to instill confidence and hope. That's what a mother does".