On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis compares man’s ‘No’ before God to Mary’s ‘great Yes", "the most important in history”. We are "experts in half Yeses" or ‘missed Yeses’. He also mentioned the victims of the earthquake in Aceh (Indonesia), and invited the faithful to attend the homage to Mary in Piazza di Spagna this afternoon. The pope will also visit S. Maria Maggiore.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis on Thursday spoke to pilgrims in St Peter's Square during the Angelus, on the day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. “God comes to dwell among us, he became man like us,” he said. “This has been possible by means of a great ‘Yes’, that of Mary." The "Yes" of the "favoured one" and our little ‘Yeses’ to God.
After the Marian prayer, the pontiff mentioned the victims of the earthquake in Indonesia (Sumatra) and invited everyone to participate, spiritually at least, in paying homage to the Virgin, which he will perform in the afternoon in front of the statue of the Immaculate in Piazza di Spagna.
Referring to the readings for today’s Mass, which mentions the story of original sin in the first reading (Gens 3,9-15.20), the pope explained that "the Book of Genesis shows us the No of the origins, when man preferred to look to himself rather than to his Creator, sought to do his own thing, chose to be sufficient unto himself. But, in doing so, leaving the communion with God, he lost himself and began to be afraid, to hide and accuse those around him (cf. Gen 3:10.12). This is what sin does. Yet, the Lord did not leave man at the mercy of his evil; right away he sought him and asked a question full of concern: "Where are you?" (Gen. 3:9). This is the question of a father or a mother who seeks the lost son: 'Where are you? In what situation did you end up? ' And God does this with a lot of patience, bridging the gap that originally arose."
Referring to today's Gospel (Luke 1:26-38), he explained that this gap is reduced "when God comes to dwell among us, [and] becomes a man like us. This was made possible by means of a great Yes, that of Mary at the Annunciation. Because of this Yes Jesus began his journey on the paths of humanity; he began it inside Mary, spending the first months of life in the womb. He did not appear as an adult, strong, but followed the path of a human being. He became just like us, except for one thing: sin. For this reason, he chose Mary, the only creature without sin, immaculate. In the Gospel, with one word, she is called "favoured one" (Lk 1:28), that is full of grace. This means that in her, full of grace from the start, there is no room for sin. We too, when we turn to her, we recognise this beauty: we invoke the favoured one’ with no shade of evil."
"As the No of the origins had closed the passage of man to God, so Mary’s Yes opened the way to God among us. It is the most important Yes in history, the humble Yes that overturns the haughty No of the origins, the faithful Yes that heals disobedience, the Yes available to overturn the selfishness of sin."
"For each of us there is a history of salvation too, made of Yeses and Noes to God. Sometimes, though, we are experts in half Yeses: we are good at pretending not to understand what God wants and what our conscience suggests. We are also sly and in order not to say a real No to God we say: 'I cannot', 'not today, but tomorrow', ‘tomorrow I will be better, I will pray tomorrow, I will do good, tomorrow'. However, this way we close the door to goodness, and evil takes advantage of these missed Yeses. Instead, every Yes full of God gives rise to a new story: saying Yes to God is truly 'original', not sin that makes us old inside. Every Yes to God originates stories of salvation for us and others."
"In this Advent journey, God wants to visit us and awaits our 'Yes', by which we say: 'I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you; may your will for good be done in me'. With generosity and trust, like Mary, let us say today, each of us, this personal Yes to God."
After the Angelus prayer, Francis mentioned the situation in Indonesia where an earthquake hit Aceh province yesterday, killing at least a hundred people. "I want to assure you of my prayers for the victims and their families, for the injured and for those who have lost their homes,” the pope said. “May the Lord give strength to people and support to the relief effort."
The pontiff then announced that this afternoon he would go to Piazza di Spagna to repeat the traditional act of homage and prayer at the foot of the monument to the Immaculate. Afterwards he will travel to the Basilica of S. Maria Maggiore to pray before the icon of Mary Health of the Roman people."
"I ask you,” he said, “to join me spiritually in this gesture that expresses filial devotion to our heavenly Mother".