Annunciation of the Lord


Humility is the “golden rule”. “Advancing”, for Christians, means “lowering themselves”. It is precisely on the humble path, chosen by God, that love and charity proceed.

The whole history of faith, is made of humility and “speaks of humility to us all”. This likewise applies to the historical event of Jesus' Birth. It seems that God wanted every event “to be concealed, that it not be made public”, that it be, as it were, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit”. This is why, everything happens on the road of humility. God, humble, lowers himself: he comes among us and lowers himself — and he continues to humble himself even to the Cross.

“Mary”, at the
Annunciation, also humbles herself: she does not properly understand, but she is free: she grasps only the essential, and says ‘yes’. She is humble: ‘May God's will be done’. She entrusts her soul to God's will”. “Joseph, her betrothed, also lowers himself and takes this great responsibility upon his shoulders”. Joseph “also says ‘yes’ to the angel when in his dream the angel tells him of this truth.

The attitude of Mary and Joseph shows that “to reach us, God’s whole love takes the path of humility. The humble God who wanted to walk with his people”. “God, humble and so good. The patient God. This is different from the attitude of idols; idols are powerful and make themselves heard: ‘it is I who command here!’”.

Our God — for he is true, he is not a false God, he is true; he is not a wooden God made by men, he is real — thus he opted for the path of humility. All this love comes from this way of humility. Being humble does not mean following the road with one’s eyes cast down: no, no! Humility is what God as well as Mary and Joseph teach us. “Humility”, is Jesus' humility which ends on the Cross, and this is the golden rule for Christians: to persevere, to advance and to humble themselves. There is no other path. Unless I humble myself, unless you humble yourself, you are not Christian.

I think we should say “lowering ourselves”. Let us look at Jesus and ask for the grace of humility. If humility is absent love has no access; let us ask for the grace of
humility — from Our Lady, from St Joseph and from Jesus.




Pope Francis           21.12.14  Angelus, St Peter's Square          4th Sunday of Advent Year B           Romans 16: 25-27;        Luke 1: 26-38


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Advent


Today, the Fourth and last Sunday of Advent, the Liturgy wants to prepare us for Christmas, now at the door, by inviting us to meditate on the Angel’s Annunciation to Mary. The Archangel Gabriel reveals to the Virgin the Lord’s will that she become the mother of his Only-Begotten Son: “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:31-32). Let us fix our gaze on this simple girl from Nazareth, at the moment she offers herself to the divine message with her “yes”; let us grasp two essential aspects of her attitude, which is for us the model of how to prepare for Christmas.

First of all her faith, her attitude of faith, which consists in listening to the Word of God in order to abandon herself to this Word with full willingness of mind and heart. Responding to the Angel, Mary said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (v. 38). In her “behold” filled with faith, Mary does not know by what road she must venture, what pains she must suffer, what risks she must face. But she is aware that it is the Lord asking and she entrusts herself totally to Him; she abandons herself to his love. This is the faith of Mary!

Another aspect is the capacity of the Mother of Christ to recognize God’s time. Mary is the one who made possible the Incarnation of the Son of God, “the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages” (Rom 16:25). She made possible the Incarnation of the Word thanks to her humble and brave “yes”. Mary teaches us to seize the right moment when Jesus comes into our life and asks for a ready and generous answer. And Jesus is coming. Indeed, the mystery of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem took place historically more than 2,000 years ago but occurs as a spiritual event in the “today” of the Liturgy. The Word, who found a home in the virgin womb of Mary, comes in the celebration of Christmas to knock once again at the heart of every Christian. He comes and knocks. Each of us is called to respond, like Mary, with a personal and sincere “yes”, placing oneself fully at the disposal of God and of his mercy, of his love. How many times Jesus comes into our lives, and how many times he sends us an angel, and how many times we don’t notice because we are so taken, immersed in our own thoughts, in our own affairs and even, in these days, in our Christmas preparations, so as not to notice Him who comes and knocks at the door of our hearts, asking for acceptance, asking for a “yes” like Mary’s. A saint used to say: “I am afraid that the Lord will come”. Do you know what the fear was? It was the fear of not noticing and letting Him pass by. When we feel in our hearts: “I would like to be a better man, a better woman…. I regret what I have done…”. That is the Lord knocking. He makes you feel this: the will to be better, the will to be closer to others, to God. If you feel this, stop. That is the Lord! And go to prayer, and maybe to confession, cleanse yourselves… this will be good. But keep well in mind: if you feel this longing to be better, He is knocking: don’t let Him pass by!

In the mystery of Christmas, at Mary’s side there is the silent presence of St Joseph, as he is portrayed in every Nativity scene — as in the one you can admire here in St Peter’s Square. The example of Mary and Joseph is for us all an invitation to accept, with total openness of spirit, Jesus, who for love made Himself our brother. He comes to bring to the world the gift of peace: “on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased” (Lk 2:14), as the choirs of Angels proclaimed to the shepherds. The precious gift of Christmas is peace, and Christ is our true peace. And Christ knocks at our hearts to grant us peace, peace of the soul. Let us open our doors to Christ!

Let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of our Mother and of St Joseph in order to experience a a truly Christian Christmas, free of all worldliness, ready to welcome the Saviour, God-among-us.




Pope Francis            24.12.17  Angelus, St Peter's Square          4th Sunday of Advent Year B            Luke 1: 26-38


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!
Pope Francis  4th Sunday of Advent  24.12.2017

This Sunday just before Christmas, we listen to the Gospel of the Annunciation (cf. Lk 1:26-38).

In this Gospel passage, we notice a contrast between the promises of the angel and Mary’s response. This contrast is manifested in the dimension and content of the expressions of the two protagonists. The angel says to Mary: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever” (vv. 30-33). It is a long revelation which opens unprecedented possibilities. The Child that will be born to this humble girl from Nazareth will be called Son of the Most High. It is not possible to conceive of a higher dignity than this. And after Mary’s question in which she asks for an explanation, the angel’s revelation becomes even more detailed and surprising.

On the other hand, Mary’s reply is a short sentence that does not speak of glory. It does not speak of privilege but only of willingness and service: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (v. 38). The content is also different. Mary does not exalt herself before the prospect of becoming the mother of the Messiah, but rather remains modest and expresses her acceptance of the Lord’s plan. Mary does not boast. She is humble and modest. She always remains the same.

This contrast is meaningful. It makes us understand that Mary is truly humble and does not try to be noticed. She recognizes that she is small before God and she is happy to be so. At the same time, she is aware that the fulfilment of God’s plan depends on her response, and that therefore she is called to accept it with her whole being.

In this circumstance, Mary’s behaviour corresponds perfectly to that of the Son of God when he comes into the world. He wants to become the Servant of the Lord, to put himself at the service of humanity to fulfil the Father’s plan. Mary says: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord”; and the Son of God upon entering the world says: “Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God” (Heb 10:7). Mary’s attitude fully mirrors this statement by the Son of God who also becomes the son of Mary. Thus Our Lady shows that she is in perfect accord with God’s plan. Furthermore she reveals herself as a disciple of his Son, and in the Magnificat, she will be able to proclaim that God has “exalted those of low degree” (Lk 1:52) because with her humble and generous response, she has obtained great joy and also great glory.

As we admire our Mother for this response to God’s call to mission, we ask her to help each of us to welcome God’s plan into our lives with sincere humility and brave generosity.





https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-12/pope-francis-the-annunciation-rivolutionizes-history.html

The passage from Luke’s Gospel that we have heard tells us the decisive moment in history, the most revolutionary. It is a turbulent situation, everything changes, history turns upside down. It is difficult to preach about this passage. And when at Christmas or on the day of the Annunciation we profess the faith to say this mystery we kneel down. It is the moment that everything changes, everything, from the root. Liturgically, today is the day of the root. The Antiphon that marks the meaning today is the root of Jesse, "from which a shoot will be born". God lowers himself, God enters history and does so in his original style: a surprise. The God of surprises surprises us (again).

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God’s power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God. Your relative Elizabeth is also going to have a son, even though she is old. No one thought she could ever have a baby, but in three months she will have a son. Nothing is impossible for God!” Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant! Let it happen as you have said.” And the angel left her.






Pope Francis   25.03.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae) Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord      Luke 1: 26-38
Wednesday of the 4th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II

The Evangelist Luke could only know this from the account of Our Lady. Listening to Luke, we listened to Our Lady recount this mystery. We're before a mystery. Perhaps the best that we can do now is to reread this passage, thinking that it was Our Lady who told it.
At that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town in Galilee, called Nàzareth, to a virgin, betrothed to a man of David's house, named Joseph. The virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace: the Lord is with you." She was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, because you have found favour with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" The angel replied to her: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, in her old age has also conceived a son and this is the sixth month for her, who was called barren: for nothing will be impossible to God." Then Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord: may it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
This is the mystery. 

The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic worship and blessing, inviting to do spiritual Communion. Below is the prayer recited by the Pope:
At your feet, oh my Jesus, I pronounce and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart that sinks into its nothingness and in Your holy presence. I love you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor abode that my heart offers you. While waiting for the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, my Jesus, may I come to You. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and for death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it.




Pope Francis   25.03.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord      Luke 1: 26-38

Pope Francis the Annunciation of the Lord  25.03.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Twenty-five years ago, on this same date of 25 March, which in the Church is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, St. John Paul II promulgated the encyclical Evangelium Vitae, on the value and inviolability of human life. 

The link between the Annunciation and the "Gospel of Life" is close and deep, as St. John Paul pointed out in his encyclical. Today, we find ourselves reviving this teaching in the context of a pandemic that threatens human life and the world economy. A situation that makes the words with which the encyclical begins feel even more challenging. Here they are: "The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus' message. Welcomed by the Church every day with love, it must be proclaimed with courageous fidelity as a good news story to people of all ages and cultures" (No. 1).

Like any evangelical proclamation, this one must be witnessed first and foremost. And I think with gratitude of the silent testimony of so many people who, in various ways, are caring for the sick, the elderly, those who are alone and most destitute. They live the Gospel of life, like Mary who, after accepting the angel's announcement, went to help her cousin Elizabeth who needed her. 

In fact, the life we are called to promote and defend is not an abstract concept, but always manifests itself in a person in the flesh: a newly conceived child, a poor outcast, a sick person alone and discouraged or in a terminal state, one who has lost his job or can't find work, a migrant rejected or ghettoized... Life manifests itself in concrete people.
Every human being is called by God to enjoy the fullness of life; and being entrusted to the maternal care of the Church, every threat to dignity and human life cannot fail to affect the her heart, in her maternal "womb". The defence of life for the Church is not an ideology, it is a reality, a human reality that involves all Christians, precisely because they are Christians and because they are human.

Unfortunately, the threats against people's dignity and lives continue even in this age of ours, which is the age of universal human rights; on the contrary, we are faced with new threats and new slavery, and legislation does not always protect the weakest and most vulnerable human life.

The message of the encyclical Evangelium Vitae is therefore more relevant than ever. Beyond emergencies, such as the one we are experiencing, it is a question of acting on the cultural and educational level to convey to future generations the attitude of solidarity, care, welcoming, knowing full well that the culture of life is not the exclusive heritage of Christians, but belongs to all those who, working for the construction of fraternal relationships, recognize the value of every person, even those who are fragile and suffering.
Dear brothers and sisters, every human life, unique and unrepeatable, has value in itself, it is invaluable. This must always be proclaimed again, with the courage of the word and the courage of actions. This calls for solidarity and fraternal love for the great human family and for each of its members.

Therefore, with St. John Paul II, who made this encyclical, with him I reiterate with renewed conviction the appeal that he made to everyone twenty-five years ago: "Respect, protect, love and serve life, every life, every human life! Only in this way will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!" (Enc. Evangelium Vitae, 5).





Pope Francis        20.12.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square            4th Sunday of Advent Year B           Luke 1: 26-38


Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!
Pope Francis  4th Sunday of Advent - Angelus  20.12.2020


On this Fourth and final Sunday of Advent, the Gospel proposes to us once again the account of the Annunciation. “Rejoice” says the angel to Mary, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Lk 1:28, 31). It seems to be an announcement of pure joy, destined to make the Virgin happy. Among the women of that time, which woman did not dream of becoming the mother of the Messiah? But along with joy, those words foretell a great trial to Mary. Why? Because in that moment she was “betrothed” (v. 27); she was unmarried. She was betrothed to Joseph. In such a situation, the Law of Moses stipulated there should be no relations or cohabitation. Therefore, in having a son, Mary would have transgressed the Law, and the punishment for women was terrible: stoning (see Dt 22:20-21). Certainly the divine message would have filled Mary’s heart with light and strength; nevertheless, she found herself faced with a crucial decision: to say “yes” to God, risking everything, even her life, or to decline the invitation and to continue her ordinary life.

What does she do? She responds thus: “Let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). But in the language in which the Gospel is written, it is not simply “let it be”. The expression indicates a strong desire, it indicates the will that something happen. In other words, Mary does not say: “If it has to happen, let it happen..., if it cannot be otherwise…”. It is not resignation. No, she does not express a weak and submissive acceptance, but rather she expresses a strong desire, a vivacious desire. She is not passive, but active. She does not submit to God, she binds herself to God. She is a woman in love prepared to serve her Lord completely and immediately. She could have asked for a little time to think about it, or even for more explanations about what would happen; perhaps she could have set some conditions... Instead, she does not take time, she does not keep God waiting, she does not delay.

How often - let us think of ourselves now - how often is our life is made up of postponements, even the spiritual life! For example, I know it is good for me to pray, but today I do not have time… tomorrow… by saying “tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow”, we postpone things: I will do it tomorrow. I know it is important to help someone, yes, I must do it: I will do it tomorrow. Today, on the threshold of Christmas, Mary invites us not to postpone, but to say “yes”. “Must I pray!” “Yes, I will try to pray”. “Must I help others? Yes”. How shall I do it? And I do it. Without putting it off. Every “yes” costs something, every “yes” has its cost, but it always costs less than what that courageous and prompt “yes" cost her, that “let it be to me according to your word”, which brought us salvation.

What, then is the “yes” we can say? Instead of complaining in these difficult times about what the pandemic prevents us from doing, let us do something for someone who has less: not the umpteenth gift for ourselves and our friends, but for a person in need whom no-one thinks of! And another piece of advice: in order for Jesus to be born in us, let us prepare our hearts, let us go to pray, let us not let ourselves be swept up by consumerism. “Ah, I have to buy presents, I must do this and that”. That frenzy of doing things, more and more. It is Jesus that is important. Consumerism is not found in the manger in Bethlehem: there is reality, poverty, love. Let us prepare our hearts to be like Mary's: free from evil, welcoming, ready to receive God.

“Let it be to me according to your word”. This is the Virgin’s last word for this last Sunday of Advent, and it is the invitation to take a genuine step towards Christmas. For if the birth of Jesus does not touch our lives - mine, yours, yours, ours, everyone’s - if it does not touch our lives, it slips past us in vain. In the Angelus now, we too will say “let your word be fulfilled in me”: May Our Lady help us to say it with our lives, with our approach to these last days in which to prepare ourselves well for Christmas.