“The year opens in the name of the Mother.”
Pope Francis focused on Mary, the Mother of God, in his homily for the Mass of her Solemnity, the first of the secular New Year. Calling Mary “the Mother of God” he said, reminds us “there is no longer God without man; the flesh Jesus took from His Mother is our own, now and for all eternity.”
The great miracle of Christmas, the Pope continued, is that “man is no longer alone; no more an orphan but forever a child.” This is the novelty presented to us by the liturgy at the beginning of the new year. Knowing that we are children of God helps us to realize that “humanity is precious and sacred to the Lord. Henceforth, to serve human life is to serve God.”
Turning explicitly to the Gospel, Pope Francis reflected on the fact that Bible says of Mary only that she “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” She remained silent in the face of the great miracles and wonders of Christmas. In this, Mary follows in the footsteps of her Son, the Eternal Word of God, Who chose to become an infant, Who did not speak.
“This silence tells us that, if we would ‘keep’ ourselves, we need silence,” the Pope said. “As we look” on the crib “in silence, we let Jesus speak to our heart… To set aside a moment of silence each day to be with God is to ‘keep’ our soul.”
The Holy Father noted that Mary pondered both the joys and sorrows of life, dwelling on them, “with God,” in her heart. She pondered them by always turning them over to God. When we do that, the Pope said, “God, Who keeps us in His heart, then comes to dwell in our lives.”
At the beginning of the new year, the Pope continued, “we too, as Christians on our pilgrim way, feel the need to set out anew from the centre, to leave behind the burdens of the past and to start over from the things that really matter.” The point of departure, he said, is the Mother of God. “Devotion to Mary is not spiritual etiquette, it is a requirement of the Christian life.” Pope Francis said, “If our faith is not to be reduced merely to an idea or a doctrine, all of us need a mother’s heart.”
He concluded his homily with the prayer: “May the Mother, God’s finest human creation, guard and keep this year, and bring the peace of her Son to our hearts, and to the world.”