On the first day of the year, which for the Church is both the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy Mother of God and World Day of Peace, Francis urged the faithful to place women at the centre. Women “look at the world not to exploit it, but so that it can have life.” During the Angelus, he said, “We are still living in uncertain and difficult times due to the pandemic”, but peace “is the epitome of all good” and can be realised “only if we make ourselves available to others”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis marked the first day of 2022 in St Peter's Basilica celebrating the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy Mother of God, which for the Church is also the 55th World Day of Peace.
During the service, he noted that women “look at the world not to exploit it, but so that it can have life.” For him, “To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity.”
In his homily, which he delivered from the Altar of the Confession, Francis focused on the evangelical icon of Mary who, before “the scandal of the manger”, the scandal of a mother who saw “her child suffering poverty”, did not lose hope but “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (cf. Lk 2:19).
We too can see a gap between expectations and reality, something “That can also happen in the life of faith, when the joy of the Gospel is put to the test in troubling situations.”
In such situations, we must learn from Mary who brings together, compares “her different experiences and find[s] the hidden threads that connect them. In her heart, in her prayer, she does exactly that: she binds together the beautiful things and the unpleasant things. She does not keep them apart, but brings them together. It is for this reason that Mary is said to be the Mother of Catholicity. In this regard, we can dare to say that it is because of this that Mary is said to be Catholic, for she unites, she does not divide. And in this way, she discerns their greater meaning, from God’s perspective.”
Many mothers embrace their children’s situations with Mary’s inclusive gaze. “We can think of the faces of all those mothers who care for a child who is ill or experiencing difficulties. What great love we see in their eyes! Even amid their tears, they are able to inspire hope. Theirs is a gaze that is conscious and realistic, but at the same time offering, beyond the pain and the problems, a bigger picture, one of care and love that gives birth to new hope.”
Nowadays, “We need such people, capable of weaving the threads of communion in place of the barbed wire of conflict and division.”
Thus. let the New Year begin “under the sign of the Holy Mother of God, under the sign of the Mother. A mother’s gaze is the path to rebirth and growth. We need mothers, women who look at the world not to exploit it, but so that it can have life. Women who, seeing with the heart, can combine dreams and aspirations with concrete reality, without drifting into abstraction and sterile pragmatism.”
By the same token, “the Church is a Mother, this is what makes the Church feminine. For this reason, we cannot find a place for women in the Church without allowing the heart of the Woman and Mother to shine. This is the place of women in the Church, the great place, from which other places, more concrete and less important, are derived.”
Indeed, “the Church is Mother, the Church is woman. And since mothers bestow life, and women ‘keep’ the world, let us all make greater efforts to promote mothers and to protect women. How much violence is directed against women! Enough! To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity.”
From his window, Francis spoke about the World Day of Peace to the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayers, expressing his best wishes to everyone for 2022, hoping that it may bring “peace, which is the epitome of all good.”
“And so, the new year begins with God who, in the arms of his mother and lying in a manger, gives us courage with tenderness. We need this encouragement. We are still living in uncertain and difficult times due to the pandemic. Many are frightened about the future and burdened by social problems, personal problems, dangers stemming from the ecological crisis, injustices and by global economic imbalances. Looking at Mary with her Son in her arms, I think of young mothers and their children fleeing wars and famine, or waiting in refugee camps.”
Looking at Mary who put Jesus in the manger, placing Him at everyone’s disposal, the Pope urged believers to “remember that the world can change and everyone’s life can improve only if we make ourselves available to others, without expecting them to begin to do so.” For him, this is the way of peace, which “is both a gift from on high and the fruit of a shared commitment”.
To this end, “we need to implore it of Jesus because we are not capable of preserving it. We can truly build peace only if we have peace in our hearts, only if we receive it from the Prince of peace. But peace is also our commitment: it asks us to take the first step, it demands concrete actions. It is built by being attentive to the least, by promoting justice, with the courage to forgive thus extinguishing the fire of hatred.”
This also “needs a positive outlook as well, one that always sees, in the Church as well as in society, not the evil that divides us, but the good that unites us! Getting depressed or complaining is useless. We need to roll up our sleeves to build peace.”