Luke

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

5-25



Pope Francis

19.12.19 Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent Year A

Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25a, Luke 1: 5-25

The prophecy of Isaiah (35: 1-6), on the blooming of the desert, reminds Christians that God is capable of changing everything, gratuitously. God saves us for free, but we sin when we desire to save ourselves.

Today's readings puts us in front of two deserts, that is two barren women: Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist in the Gospel, and the mother of Samson in the Old Testament.

In the Gospel Elizabeth's story also makes us think of the story of Abraham and Sara. Infertility is a desert because a sterile woman ends up there, without descendants. Both Sarah and Elizabeth are women of faith and trust in the Lord.

And the Lord makes the desert flourish. Both women conceive and give birth. "Father is this a miracle?" No, it is more than a miracle: it is the basis, it is precisely the foundation of our faith. Both conceive because God is capable of changing everything, even the laws of nature; is capable of making way for His Word. God's gifts are gratuitous. And the lives of both women are the expression of God's gratuitousness.

Both John the Baptist and Samson are God's gratuitousness, rather, they are the symbols, so to speak, of the gratuitousness of our salvation, because no one can save himself. The only one who saves is the Lord, the only one who can save us from our misery and brutality. And if you do not rely on the gratuitousness of the Lord's salvation, you will not be saved. But we must have faith, which is also a gift from God.

Let us all, in the words of St. Augustine, open our hearts to God’s gratuitousness.

None of us deserve salvation. Nobody! "But I pray, I fast..." Yes, this will do you good, but if there's no gratuitousness at the beginning of all of that, there's no chance. We're sterile. All of us. Sterile for the life of grace, sterile to go to heaven, sterile to conceive holiness. Only gratuitousness. And that's why we can't brag about being fair. "Father, I am Catholic, I am Catholic. I go to Mass on Sunday. I belong to this association, to this, to that one..." - "And tell me: are you buying your salvation like this? Do you think this will save you?" It will only help you to save yourself if you believe in the gratuitousness of God's gift. Everything is grace.

For this reason all are called to worship the Lord and thank Him for so much grace.

Both of these women, then, gave birth to children who would be great in history. Samson, a great wrestler and strong man, who saved the people from the Philistines, but who perhaps did not care for the gratuitousness of the gift received from God. He made a mistake and fell into the hands of a woman who sold him to the Philistines. However, he recovered. We are all sinners and sin does not prevent this gratuitousness of God.

But, am I aware that sin does not prevent gratuitousness? And when I go to confession, what do I do? Do I say sins like a parrot or do I say them because I feel that I risked the gift of gratuitousness to have something of my own? Keep the gratuitousness and think of Samson: elected, good, who towards the end of his life had a slip, then recovered. But we can, we can slip and believe ourselves to be redeeming ourselves. That's sin. Sin is the desire to redeem ourselves. In these days before Christmas we praise the Lord for the gratuitousness of salvation, for the gratuitousness of life, for all that he gives us for free. Everything is grace.

Let us reflect on whether we keep this gratuitousness or put it at risk with our sins.


19.12.19

Chapter 1

26-38




Pope Francis

08.04.13 Holy Mass, Santa Marta

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Luke 1: 26-38

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.

08.04.13

Chapter 1

26-38

cont.




Pope Francis


08.12.20 Angelus, St Peter's Square


Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Year B


Ephesians 1: 3-6, 11-12,


Luke 1: 26-38

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good afternoon!

Today’s liturgical feast celebrates one of the wonders of the story of salvation: the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Even she was saved by Christ, but in an extraordinary way, because God wanted that the mother of His Son not be touched by the misery of sin from the moment of her conception. And so, for the entire course of her earthly life, Mary was free from any stain of sin, she was the “full of grace” (Lk 1:28), as the angel called her. She was favoured by a singular action of the Holy Spirit so as to always remain in perfect relationship with her Son, Jesus. Rather, she was Jesus’s disciple: His Mother and disciple. But there was no sin in her.

In the magnificent hymn that opens the Letter to the Ephesians (see 1:3-6, 11-12), St Paul makes us understand that every human being is created by God for that fullness of holiness, for that beauty of which the Madonna was clothed from the beginning. The goal to which we are called is also a gift of God for us, for which, the Apostles says He “chose us before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish” (v. 4); He predestined us (see v. 5), in Christ to be totally free from sin one day. And this is grace, it is gratuitous, it is a gift of God.

And what Mary had from the beginning, will be ours in the end, after we have passed through the purifying “bath” of God’s grace. What opens the gates of paradise to us is God’s grace, received by us with faithfulness. Even the most innocent were, nevertheless, marked by original sin and fought with all their strength against its consequences. They passed through the “narrow door” that leads to life (see Lk 13:24). And do you know who is the first person we are sure entered paradise? Do you know who? A “ruffian”: one of the two who was crucified with Jesus. And he turned to Jesus saying: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”. And He responded: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:42-43). Brothers and sisters, God’s grace is offered to everyone; and many who are the least on this earth will be the first in heaven (see Mk 10:31).

But be careful. It does not pay to be clever – to continually postpone a serious evaluation of one’s own life, taking advantage of the Lord’s patience. He is patient. He waits for us, He is always ready to give us grace. We may be able to deceive people, but not God; He knows our hearts better than we ourselves do. Let us take advantage of the present moment! This, yes, is the Christian sense of seizing the day. Not to enjoy life in each passing moment – no, this is the worldly sense. But to seize today, to say “no” to evil and “yes” to God, to open oneself to His grace, to once and for all stop thinking of ourselves, dragging ourselves into hypocrisy and to face our own reality as we are –this is who we are – to recognize that we have not loved God and neighbour as we should have. And to confess it, this is the beginning of a journey of conversion, asking God’s pardon first of all in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and then to repair the harm done to others. But always open to grace: the Lord knocks on our door, He knocks on our heart to enter into friendship with us, in communion, to give us salvation.

And this, for us, is the path for becoming “holy and immaculate”. The uncontaminated beauty of our Mother is incomparable, but at the same time it attracts us. Let us entrust ourselves to her and say “no” to sin and “yes” to Grace once and for all.

08.12.20

Chapter 1

39-56



Pope Francis

26.05.13 Eucharistic Celebration,

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity with First Communicants,

Roman Parish of Sts Elizabeth and Zachariah

Luke 1: 39 Proverbs 8: 22-31

Romans 5: 1-5 John 16: 12-15

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In his greeting the Parish Priest reminded me of something beautiful about Our Lady. Our Lady, as soon as she had heard the news that she was to be the Mother of Jesus and the announcement that her cousin Elizabeth was expecting a child — the Gospel says — she went to her in haste, she did not wait. She did not say: “But now I am with child I must take care of my health. My cousin is bound to have friends who can care for her”. Something stirred her and she “went with haste” to Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:39). It is beautiful to think this of Our Lady, of our Mother, that she hastens, because she intends to help. She goes to help, she doesn't go to boast and tell her cousin: “listen, I’m in charge now, because I am the Mother of God!”. No, she did not do that. She went to help! And Our Lady is always like this. She is our Mother who always hurries to us whenever we are in need.

It would be beautiful to add to the Litany of Our Lady something like this: “O Lady who goes in haste, pray for us!”. It is lovely, isn’t? For she always goes in haste, she does not forget her children. And when her children are in difficulty, when they need something and call on her, she hurries to them. This gives us a security, the security of always having our Mother next to us, beside us. We move forward, we journey more easily in life when our mother is near. Let us think of this grace of Our Lady, this grace that she gives us: of being close to us, but without making us wait for her. Always! She — lets us trust in this — she lives to help us. Our Lady who always hastens, for our sake.

Our Lady also helps us to understand God and Jesus well, to understand Jesus’ life well and God’s life, and to understand properly what the Lord is, what the Lord is like and, God is. I ask you children: “Who knows who God is?”. Raise your hand. Tell me? There! Creator of the earth. And how many Gods are there? One? But I have been told that there are three: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! How can this be explained? Is there one or are there three? One? One? And how is it possible to explain that one is the Father, another the Son and the other the Holy Spirit? Louder, Louder! That girl is right. They are three in one, three Persons in one.

And what does the Father do? The Father is the beginning, the Father who created all things, who created us. What does the Son do? What does Jesus do? Who can tell me what Jesus does? Does he love us? And then? He brings the word of God! Jesus comes to teach us the word of God. This is excellent! And what then? What did Jesus do on earth? He saved us! And Jesus came to give his life for us. The Father creates the world; Jesus saves us.

And what does the Holy Spirit do? He loves us! He gives you love! All the children together: the Father creates all, he creates the world; Jesus saves us; and the Holy Spirit? He loves us! And this is Christian life: talking to the Father, talking to the Son and talking to the Holy Spirit. Jesus has saved us, but he also walks beside us in life. Is this true? And how does he walk? What does he do when he walks beside us in life? This is hard. Anyone who knows this wins the Derby! What does Jesus do when he walks with us? Louder! First: he helps us. He leads us! Very good. He walks with us, he helps us, he leads us and he teaches us to journey on.

And Jesus also gives us the strength to work. Doesn’t he? He sustains us! Good! In difficulty, doesn’t he? And also in our school tasks! He supports us, he helps us, he leads us, he sustains us. That’s it! Jesus always goes with us. Good. But listen, Jesus gives us strength. How does Jesus give us strength? You know this, you know that he gives us strength! Louder, I can’t hear you! In Communion he gives us strength, he really helps us with strength. He comes to us. But when you say, “he gives us Communion”, does a piece of bread make you so strong? Isn’t it bread? Is it bread? This is bread, but is what is on the altar bread? Or isn’t it bread? It seems to be bread. It is not really bread. What is it? It is the Body of Jesus. Jesus comes into our heart.

So let us all think about this: the Father has given us life; Jesus has given us salvation, he accompanies us, he leads us, he supports us, he teaches us; and the Holy Spirit? What does he give us? He loves us! He gives us love. Let us think of God in this way and ask Our Lady, Our Lady our Mother, who always hurries to our aid, to teach us to understand properly what God is like: what the Father is like, what the Son is like, and what the Holy Spirit is like. Amen.

26.05.13


Chapter 1

39-56

cont.




Pope Francis

15.08.17 Angelus, St Peter's Square

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Year A

Luke 1: 39-56

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Gospel introduces us to the young woman of Nazareth who, having received the Angel’s Annunciation, leaves in haste to be closer to Elizabeth, in the final months of her prodigious pregnancy. Arriving at Elizabeth’s home, Mary hears her utter the words that have come to form the “Hail Mary” prayer: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk 1:42). In fact, the greatest gift Mary brings to Elizabeth — and to the whole world — is Jesus, who already lives within her; and he lives not only through faith and through expectation, as in many women of the Old Testament: from the Virgin, Jesus took on human flesh for his mission of salvation.

In the home of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, where sadness once reigned for lack of children, there is now the joy of a child on the way: a child who will become the great John the Baptist, the precursor of the Messiah. And when Mary arrives, joy overflows and gushes from their hearts, because the invisible but real presence of Jesus fills everything with meaning: life, family, the salvation of the people. Everything! This joy is expressed in Mary’s voice in the marvellous prayer that the Gospel of Luke has conveyed to us and which, from the first Latin word, is called Magnificat. It is a song of praise to God who works great things through humble people, unknown to the world, as is Mary herself, as is her spouse Joseph, and as is the place where they live, Nazareth. The great things God has done with humble people, the great things the Lord does in the world with the humble, because humility is like a vacuum that leaves room for God. The humble are powerful because they are humble: not because they are strong. And this is the greatness of the humble and of humility. I would like to ask you — and also myself — but do not answer out loud — each of you respond in your heart: “How is my humility?”.

The Magnificat praises the merciful and faithful God who accomplishes his plan of salvation through the little ones and the poor, through those who have faith in him, who trust in his Word as did Mary. Here is the exclamation of Elizabeth: “Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45). In that house, the coming of Jesus through Mary created not only a climate of joy and fraternal communion, but also a climate of faith that leads to hope, prayer, and praise.

We would like to have all of this happen today in our homes too. Celebrating Mary Most Holy Assumed into Heaven, we would once again wish her to bring to us, to our families, to our communities, this immense gift, that unique Grace that we must always seek first and above all the other graces that we also have at heart: the grace that is Jesus Christ!

By bearing Jesus, Our Lady also brings to us a new joy full of meaning; she brings us a new ability to traverse with faith the most painful and difficult moments; she brings us the capacity of mercy, in order to forgive each other, to understand each other and to support each other.

Mary is the model of virtue and of faith. Today, in contemplating her Assumption into Heaven, the final fulfilment of her earthly journey, we thank her because she always precedes us in the pilgrimage of life and faith. She is the first Disciple. And we ask her to keep us and support us; that we may have a strong, joyful and merciful faith; that she may help us to be saints, to meet with her, one day, in Heaven.

15.08.17

The Gospel we have just heard draws us into the encounter between two women who embrace, overflowing with joy and praise. The child leaps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb and she blesses her cousin for her faith. Mary sings of the mighty things that the Lord has done for his humble servant; hers is the great hymn of hope for those who can no longer sing because they have lost their voice. That hymn of hope is also meant to rouse us today, and to make us join our voices to it. It does this with three precious elements that we can contemplate in the first of the disciples: Mary journeys, Mary encounters, Mary rejoices.

Mary journeys… from Nazareth to the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth. It is the first of Mary’s journeys, as related by the Scriptures. The first of many. She will journey from Galilee to Bethlehem, where Jesus will be born; she will go down to Egypt to save her Child from Herod; she will go up again every year to Jerusalem for the Passover (cf. Lk 2:31), and ultimately she will follow Jesus to Calvary. These journeys all have one thing in common: they were never easy; they always required courage and patience. They tell us that Our Lady knows what it means to walk uphill, she knows what it means for us to walk uphill, and she is our sister at every step of the way. She knows what it is to be weary of walking and she can take us by the hand amid our difficulties, in the most perilous twists and turns in our life’s journey.

As a good mother, Mary knows that love grows daily amid the little things of life. A mother’s love and ingenuity was able to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 286). Contemplating Mary enables us to turn our gaze to all those many women, mothers and grandmothers of these lands who, by their quiet sacrifices, devotion and self-denial, are shaping the present and preparing the way for tomorrow’s dreams. Theirs is a silent, tenacious and unsung sacrifice; they are unafraid to “roll up their sleeves” and shoulder difficulties for the sake of their children and families, “hoping against hope” (Rm 4:18). The living memory of your people preserves this powerful sense of hope against every attempt to dim or extinguish it. Looking to Mary and to all those mothers’ faces, we experience and are nourished by that sense of hope (cf. Aparecida Document, 536), which gives birth to and opens up the horizons of the future. Let us state it emphatically: in our people there is much room for hope. That is why Mary’s journey continues even today; she invites us, with her, to journey together.

Mary encounters Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:39-56), a woman already advanced in years (v. 7). But Elizabeth, though older, is the one who speaks of the future and, “filled with the Holy Spirit” (v. 41), prophesies in words that foreshadow the last of the Gospel beatitudes: “Blessed are those who believe” (cf. Jn 20:29). Remarkably, the younger woman goes to meet the older one, seeking her roots, while the older woman is reborn and prophetically foretells the future of the younger one. Here, young and old meet, embrace and awaken the best of each. It is a miracle brought about by the culture of encounter, where no one is discarded or pigeonholed, but all are sought out, because all are needed to reveal the Lord’s face. They are not afraid to walk together, and when this happens, God appears and works wonders in his people. The Holy Spirit impels us to go out from ourselves, from all that hems us in, from the things to which we cling.

The Spirit teaches us to look beyond appearances and enables us to speak well of others – to bless them. This is especially true with regard to our brothers and sisters who are homeless, exposed to the elements, lacking perhaps not only a roof over their head or a crust of bread, but the friendship and warmth of a community to embrace, shelter and accept them. This is the culture of encounter; it urges us as Christians to experience the miraculous motherhood of the Church, as she seeks out, protects and gathers her children. In the Church, when different rites meet, when the most important thing is not one’s own affiliation, group or ethnicity, but the People that together praises God, then great things take place. Again, let us state it emphatically: Blessed are those who believe (cf. Jn 20:29) and who have the courage to foster encounter and communion.

Mary, as she journeys to visit Elizabeth, reminds us where God desired to dwell and live, where his sanctuary is, and where we can feel his heartbeat: it is in the midst of his People. There he is, there he lives, there he awaits us. We can apply to ourselves the prophet’s call not to fear, not to let our arms grow weak! For the Lord our God is in our midst; he is a powerful saviour (cf. Zeph 3:16-17) and he is in the midst of his people. This is the secret of every Christian: God is in our midst as a powerful saviour. Our certainty of this enables us, like Mary, to sing and exult with joy.

Mary rejoices. She rejoices because she bears in her womb Emmanuel, God-with-us: “The Christian life is joy in the Holy Spirit” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 122). Without joy, we remain paralyzed, slaves to our unhappiness. Often problems of faith have little to do with a shortage of means and structures, of quantity, or even the presence of those who do not accept us; they really have to do with a shortage of joy. Faith wavers when it just floats along in sadness and discouragement. When we live in mistrust, closed in on ourselves, we contradict the faith. Instead of realizing that we are God’s children for whom he does great things (cf. v. 49), we reduce everything to our own problems. We forget that we are not orphans. In our sadness, we forget that we are not orphans, for we have a Father in our midst, a powerful saviour. Mary comes to our aid, because instead of reducing things, she magnifies them in “magnifying” the Lord, in praising his greatness.

Here we find the secret of our joy. Mary, lowly and humble, starts from God’s greatness and despite her problems – which were not few – she is filled with joy, for she entrusts herself to the Lord in all things. She reminds us that God can always work wonders if we open our hearts to him and to our brothers and sisters. Let us think of the great witnesses of these lands: simple persons who trusted in God in the midst of persecution. They did not put their hope in the world, but in the Lord, and thus they persevered. I would like to give thanks for these humble victors, these saints-next-door, who showed us the way. Their tears were not in vain; they were a prayer that rose to heaven and nurtured the hope of this people.

Dear brothers and sisters, Mary journeys, encounters and rejoices because she carries something greater than herself: she is the bearer of a blessing. Like her, may we too be unafraid to bear the blessing that Romania needs. May you be promoters of a culture of encounter that gives the lie to indifference, a culture that rejects division and allows this land to sing out the mercies of the Lord.

31.05.19


Chapter 1

39-56

cont.



Pope Francis

15.08.19 St Peter's Square, Rome

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Year C

Luke 1: 39-56

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In today's Gospel, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mary prays saying "my soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour" (Lk 1:46 -47). Look at the verbs of this prayer: magnificent and rejoices. Two verbs: "magnificent" and "rejoice". We rejoices when something so beautiful happens that it is not enough to rejoice inside, in the soul, but we want to express our happiness with the whole body: that's when we rejoice. Mary rejoices because of God. I wonder if we too have rejoiced for the Lord, we rejoice for results obtained, for some good news, but today Mary teaches us to rejoice in God. Why? Because he -God-does "great things" (cf. v. 49).

Great things are recalled by the other verb: to magnify. "My soul magnifies the Lord". Magnify. In fact magnify means to exalt the reality for its greatness, its beauty ... Mary proclaims the greatness of the Lord, she praises Him saying that He is truly great. In life it is important to look for great things, otherwise we loose ourselves behind so many little things. Mary shows us that, if we want our life to be happy, we must place God first, because He alone is great. How many times we chase after things of little importance: prejudice, grudges, rivalry, envy, illusions, superfluous material goods ... How much pettiness in life! We know that don't we. Mary invites us to look upwards at the "great things" that the Lord has accomplished in her. Even in us, in all of us, the Lord accomplishes so many great things. He wants us to recognize that and to rejoice and magnify Him, for the things that He does in and with us. 627

These are the "great things" that we celebrate today. Mary is assumed into heaven: small and humble, she is the first to receive the highest glory. She, who is a human being, one of us, reaches eternity in body and soul. And there she waits for us, just like a mother waits for her children to come home. In fact, God's people invokes her as "the gate of heaven". We are on a journey, pilgrims, to our home up there. Today we look to Mary and see the finish line. We see that a creature has been assumed to the glory of the risen Christ, and that creature could only be her, the mother of the Redeemer. We see that in heaven, together with Christ, the new Adam, there's also her, Mary, the new Eve, and this gives us comfort and hope in our pilgrimage here on Earth.

The feast of the assumption of Mary is a call to everyone, especially to those who are afflicted with doubts and sadness, and live with their eyes turned downwards, they can't look up. Let us look upwards, the sky is open; it no longer arouses fear, it's no longer distant, because on the threshold of heaven there is a mother who awaits us and is our mother. She loves us, smiles at us and helps us with care. Like every mother she wants the best for her children and says to us: "you are precious in the eyes of God; you're not made for little satisfactions of the world, but for the great joys of heaven. " Yes, because God is joy, not boredom. God is joy. Let us allow ourselves to be taken by Mary's hand. Every time we take the Rosary in our hands and pray to her we take a step forward toward the great goal of our life.

Let us be attracted by true beauty, and not be drawn in by the petty things of life, but let us choose the greatness of heaven. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, gate of heaven, help us to look with confidence and joy every day towards the place where our true home is, where she is, and where she our mother awaits us.

15.08.19


Chapter 1

39-56

cont.




Pope Francis

15.08.20 Angelus, St Peter's Square

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Year A

Luke 1: 39-56

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

When man set foot on the moon, he said a phrase that became famous: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. In essence, humanity had reached a historical goal. But today, in Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, we celebrate an infinitely greater conquest. The Madonna has set foot in paradise: she went there not only in spirit, but with her body as well, with all of herself. This step of the lowly Virgin of Nazareth was the huge leap forward for humanity. Going to the moon serves us little if we do not live as brothers and sisters on Earth. But that one of us dwells in the flesh in Heaven gives us hope: we understand that we are precious, destined to rise again. God does not allow our bodies to vanish into nothing. With God, nothing is lost! In Mary, the goal has been reached and we have before our eyes the reasons why we journey: not to gain the things here below, which vanish, but to achieve the homeland above, which is forever. And Our Lady is the star that guides us. She went there first. She, as the Council teaches, shines “as a sign of sure hope and solace to the People of God during its sojourn on earth” (Lumen gentium, 68).

What does our Mother advise us? Today in the Gospel the first thing she says is: “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Lk 1:46). We, accustomed to hearing these words, perhaps we no longer pay attention to their meaning. To “magnify” literally means “to make great”, to enlarge. Mary “aggrandises the Lord”: not problems, which she did not lack at the time, but the Lord. How often, instead, we let ourselves be overwhelmed by difficulties and absorbed by fears! Our Lady does not, because she puts God as the first greatness of life. From here the Magnificat springs forth, from here joy is born: not from the absence of problems, which come sooner or later, but joy is born from the presence of God who helps us, who is near us. Because God is great. And, above all, God looks on the lowly ones. We are His weakness of love: God looks on and love the lowly.

Mary, in fact, acknowledges that she is small and exalts the “great things” (v. 49) the Lord has done for her. What are they? First and foremost, the unexpected gift of life: Mary is a virgin yet she becomes pregnant; and Elizabeth, too, who was elderly, is expecting a child. The Lord works wonders with those who are lowly, with those who do not believe that they are great but who give ample space to God in their life. He enlarges His mercy to those who trust in Him, and raises up the humble. Mary praises God for this.

And we - we might ask ourselves - do we remember to praise God? Do we thank Him for the great things He does for us? For every day that He gives us, because He always loves us and forgives us, for His tenderness? In addition, for having given us His Mother, for the brothers and sisters He puts on our path, and because He opened Heaven to us? Do we thank God, praise God for these things? If we forget the good, our hearts shrink. But if, like Mary, we remember the great things that the Lord does, if at least once a day we were to “magnify” Him, then we would take a great step forward. One time during the day to say: “I praise the Lord”, to say, “Blessed be the Lord”, which is a short prayer of praise. This is praising God. With this short prayer, our hearts will expand, joy will increase. Let us ask Our Lady, the Gate of Heaven, for the grace to begin each day by raising our eyes to Heaven, toward God, to say to Him: "Thank you!” as the lowly ones say to the great ones. “Thank you”.

15.08.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon and happy feast day!

In today’s Gospel, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary into Heaven, the Magnificat resounds in the liturgy. This hymn of praise is like a “photograph” of the Mother of God. Mary “rejoices in God”, why? “Because he has looked on the humility of his handmaid”, as it says (cf Lk 1:47-48).

Mary’s secret is humility. It is her humility that attracted God’s gaze to her. The human eye always looks for grandeur and allows itself to be dazzled by what is flashy. Instead, God does not look at the appearance, God looks at the heart (cf 1 Sam 16:7) and is enchanted by humility. Humility of heart enchants God. Today, looking at Mary assumed into heaven, we can say that humility is the way that leads to Heaven. The word “humility”, as we know, comes from the Latin word humus, which means “earth”. It is paradoxical: to arrive on high, into Heaven, what is needed is to stay low, like the earth! Jesus teaches this: “the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11). God does not exalt us because of our gifts, because of our wealth or how well we do things, but because of humility. God loves humility. God lifts up the one who humbles him or herself; he lifts up the one who serves. Mary, in fact, attributes no other “title” except servant to herself, to serve: she is, “the servant of the Lord” (Lk 1:38). She says nothing else about herself, she seeks nothing else for herself. Only to be the servant of the Lord.

Today, then, let us ask ourselves, each one of us in our heart: how am I doing with humility? Do I want to be recognised by others, to affirm myself and to be praised, or do I think rather about serving? Do I know how to listen, like Mary, or do I want only to speak and receive attention? Do I know how to keep silence, like Mary, or am I always chattering? Do I know how to take a step back, defuse quarrels and arguments, or do I always want to excel? Let us think about these questions, each one of us: how am I doing with humility?

In her littleness, Mary wins Heaven first. The secret of her success is precisely that she recognises her lowliness, that she recognises her need. With God, only those who recognise themselves as nothing can receive the all. Only the one who empties him or herself can be filled by Him. And Mary is the “full of grace” (v. 28) precisely because of her humility. For us as well, humility is the always the point of departure, always, it is the beginning of our having faith. It is fundamental to be poor in spirit, that is in need of God. Those who are filled with themselves have no space for God. And many times, we are full of ourselves, and the one who is filled with him or herself gives no space to God, but those who remain humble allow the Lord to accomplish great things (cf v.49).

The poet, Dante, calls the Virgin Mary, “humbler and loftier than any creature” (Paradise, XXXIII, 2). It is beautiful to think that the humblest and loftiest creature in history, the first to win heaven with her entire being, in soul and body, lived out her life for the most part within the domestic walls, she lived out her life in the ordinary, in humility. The days of the Full of grace were not all that striking. They followed one after the other, often exactly the same, in silence: externally, nothing extraordinary. But God’s gaze was always upon her, admiring her humility, her availability, the beauty of her heart never stained by sin.

It is a huge message of hope for us, for you, for each one of us, for you whose days are always the same, tiring and often difficult. Mary reminds you today that God calls you too to this glorious destiny. These are not beautiful words: it is the truth. It is not a well-crafted, beautiful ending, a pious illusion or a false consolation. No, it is the truth, it is pure reality, it is as real, as live and true as the Madonna assumed into Heaven. Let us celebrate her today with the love of children, let us celebrate her joyful but humble, enlivened by the hope of one day being with her in Heaven!

And let us pray to her now that she accompany us on our journey that leads from Earth to Heaven. May she remind us that the secret to the journey is contained in the word humility. Let us not forget this word which the Madonna always reminds us of. And that lowliness and service are the secrets for obtaining the goal, of reaching heaven.

15.08.21