Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - "The wish" for a year full of God's blessing , "was fully realized in a woman, Mary, who was destined to become the Mother of God, and it was fulfilled in her before any other creature".
Pope Francis' sermon this morning in St. Peter's Basilica, on the occasion of the 47th World Day of Peace on the theme: Fraternity, foundation and the path to peace, which coincides with the Octave of Christmas, when the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, was entirely dedicated to Mary and the faith of the Christian people in her.
For the Pope, the first blessing of Aaron mentioned in the first reading of today's Mass was fully realized in Mary: "The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace" (Num 6:24-26).
"They are words - he said - of strength, courage and hope. Not an illusory hope, based on frail human promises, or a naïve hope which presumes that the future will be better simply because it is the future. Rather, it is a hope that has its foundation precisely in God's blessing, a blessing which contains the greatest message of good wishes there can be; and this is the message which the Church brings to each of us, filled with the Lord's loving care and providential help".
And he continued: " The Mother of God! This is the first and most important title of Our Lady. It refers to a quality, a role which the faith of the Christian people, in its tender and genuine devotion to our heavenly Mother, has understood from the beginning".
The pontiff recalled the Council of Ephesus , where this title for Mary was proclaimed: " It is said that the residents of Ephesus used to gather at the gates of the basilica where the bishops were meeting and shout, "Mother of God!". The faithful, by asking them to officially define this title of Our Lady, showed that they acknowledged her divine motherhood. Theirs was the spontaneous and sincere reaction of children who know their Mother well, for they love her with immense tenderness. Mary has always been present in the hearts, the piety and above all the pilgrimage of faith of the Christian people. "The Church journeys through time... and on this journey she proceeds along the path already trodden by the Virgin Mary" (Redemptoris Mater, 2)".
"Our journey of faith - he said- is the same as that of Mary, and so we feel that she is particularly close to us. As far as faith, the hinge of the Christian life, is concerned, the Mother of God shared our condition. She had to take the same path as ourselves, a path which is sometimes difficult and obscure. She had to advance in the "pilgrimage of faith" (Lumen Gentium, 58)".
"Our pilgrimage of faith has been inseparably linked to Mary ever since Jesus, dying on the Cross, gave her to us as our Mother, saying: "Behold your Mother!" (Jn 19:27). These words serve as a testament, bequeathing to the world a Mother. From that moment on, the Mother of God also became our Mother! When the faith of the disciples was most tested by difficulties and uncertainties, Jesus entrusted them to Mary, who was the first to believe, and whose faith would never fail. The "woman" became our Mother when she lost her divine Son. Her sorrowing heart was enlarged to make room for all men and women, whether good or bad, and she loves them as she loved Jesus. The woman who at the wedding at Cana in Galilee gave her faith-filled cooperation so that the wonders of God could be displayed in the world, at Calvary kept alive the flame of faith in the resurrection of her Son, and she communicates this with maternal affection to each and every person. Mary becomes in this way a source of hope and true joy!".
"The Mother of the Redeemer goes before us and continually strengthens us in faith, in our vocation and in our mission. By her 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. In this way our mission will be fruitful, because it is modeled on the motherhood of Mary. To her let us entrust our 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".
"I invite you - he concluded - to invoke her three times, like these our brothers and sisters of Ephesus and say together : Mother of God, Mother of God, Mother of God, Amen."