In the New Year, receive Mary's love and help, Francis says

By Hannah Brockhaus

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Pope Francis incenses the Nativity Scene in St. Peter's Basilica Dec. 24, 2017. Credit: Vatican Media.

When challenged, it is right to turn to Mary, Our Mother, for help, Pope Francis said on New Year’s Day, because Our Lady sees everyone as beloved children of God and helps others to see and to love in the same way.

“Especially in times of need, when we are entangled in life’s knots, we rightly lift our eyes to Our Lady,” the pope said Jan. 1. “Yet first, we should let ourselves be gazed upon by Our Lady.”

“The eyes of Our Lady are able to bring light to every dark corner; everywhere they rekindle hope. As she gazes upon us, she says: ‘Take heart, dear children; here I am, your Mother!’”

“This maternal gaze, which instils confidence and trust, helps us to grow in faith,” he continued. “Her maternal gaze helps us see ourselves as beloved children in God’s faithful people, and to love one another regardless of our individual limitations and approaches.”

In a homily for Mass for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope reflected on the maternal role of the Blessed Virgin of Mary, who, he said, gazing on God’s people, sees children, not sinners.

“Our Lady keeps us rooted in the Church, where unity counts more than diversity; she encourages us to care for one another,” he stated, noting that her tender gaze can people from falling into tepidity.   

“When faith makes a place for the Mother of God, we never lose sight of the center: The Lord, for Mary never points to herself but to Jesus; and our brothers and sisters, for Mary is mother,” he said.

He explained that not only is “the Mother” important, but also all of the mothers in the world, because “the human family is built upon mothers” and a world without their maternal tenderness may be rich materially, “but poor where the future is concerned. Mother of God, teach us to see life as you do.”

“We need to learn from mothers that heroism is shown in self-giving, strength in compassion, wisdom in meekness,” he urged. “God himself needed a Mother: how much more so do we!”

As mothers hold the hands of their little children to show them the way and to keep them from harm, “let us allow ourselves to be taken by the hand,” he said. “Mary, take us by the hand.”

Pope Francis said that “God-with-us, Emmanuel, loves us despite our mistakes, our sins, and the way we treat our world. God believes in mankind, because its first and preeminent member is his own Mother.”

Today, he continued, is a day “to be amazed by the Mother of God. God appears as a little child, held in the arms of a woman who feeds her Creator… That is the mystery we celebrate today, which gives rise to boundless amazement: God has become one with humanity forever.”

Following Mass, Pope Francis led around 40,000 people in praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. In his message, he explained that “it is God’s blessing that gives substance to all the good wishes that are exchanged” during the days of Christmas and New Year’s.

And today, as the Church celebrates Mary, Mother of God, “Our Lady blesses us all, everyone,” he continued. “She blesses the path of every man and every woman in this year that begins, and that will be good just as everyone has received the goodness of God that Jesus came to bring into the world.”

Francis also recalled the day’s celebration of the 52nd World Day of Peace, with the theme: Good politics is at the service of peace.

“We do not think that politics is reserved only for rulers: we are all responsible for the life of the ‘city,’ of the common good,” he noted, “and politics too is good to the extent that each one plays his part in the service of peace.”

Concluding, the pope prayed that “through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Lord will allow us to be artisans of peace – this begins at home, in the family: artisans of peace – every day of the new year.”

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