Mary shows us the way.
Pope Francis called on the Christian faithful at today’s Sunday Angelus not to miss God’s knock at their door this Christmas. He reminded them that an inner urge to improve oneself is, in fact, Jesus knocking at the door of a person’s heart. He also reflected on how the Blessed Virgin responded to God’s call with full availability of mind and heart, showing us how to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ this Christmas.
Here below is the full text of the Pope’s address.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today, on the fourth and final Sunday of Advent, the liturgy prepares us for Christmas which is almost upon us, by inviting us to ponder the Angel’s announcement to Mary. The archangel Gabriel reveals to the Virgin God’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 Son of the Most Hight” (Lk 1:31-32). Let us fix our gaze on this simple maiden of Nazareth, at the moment she makes herself available to the divine message with her “yes”.
Let us grasp two essential aspects of her attitude, which for us are a 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 availability of mind and heart. Responding to the Angel, Mary said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (v. 38). In her “here I am”, filled with faith, Mary does not know what roads she will have to travel, what pains she will have to suffer, what risks she will have to face. However, she knows that it is the Lord who is asking and she trusts him totally, she abandons herself to his love. This is Mary’s faith.
Another aspect is the Mother of Christ’s ability to recognize the time of God. 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 precisely through her humble and courageous “yes”. Mary teaches us to seize the favorable time when Jesus passes by in our lives and asks for a prompt and generous response.
And Jesus does pass by. In fact, the mystery of the Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem — which occurred historically more than two thousand years ago — is realized as a spiritual event in the “today” of the liturgy. The Word, who found a home in the virginal womb of Mary, in the celebration of Christmas comes knocking again at the heart of every Christian: he passes by and knocks. Each of us is called to respond, like Mary, with a personal and sincere “yes”, by placing ourselves fully at the disposal of God and his mercy, his love. How many times Jesus passes by in our lives, how often he sends us an angel, and how many times do we not even realize it, because we are so caught up and immersed in our thoughts, our affairs and even, these days, in preparing for Christmas, that we do not realize he is passing by and knocking at the door of our hearts, asking to be welcomed, asking for a “yes” like Mary’s.
A saint once said: “I am afraid the Lord is passing by.” Do you know why he was afraid? He was afraid that he would not notice him and let him pass by. When we feel in our hearts: “I would like to be better, to be better … I am sorry for what I did …”, it is the Lord knocking. He makes you feel this: the desire to be better, the desire to be closer to others, and to God. If you feel this, stop and pause. It is the Lord. And go to prayer, and perhaps to confession, to clean things up a bit.… This is good. But remember: if you feel this urge to improve, it is him knocking: do not let him pass by!
In the mystery of Christmas, next to Mary is the silent presence of St. Joseph, as we see portrayed in every manger scene, also the one you can see here in St. Peter’s Square. The example of Mary and Joseph is an invitation to us all to welcome Jesus, who out of love became our brother, with total openness. He comes to bring the world the gift of peace: “On earth peace among men with whom he is pleased” (Lk 2:14), as the choir of angels proclaimed to the shepherds. The precious gift of Christmas is peace, and Christ is our true peace. Christ knocks at our hearts to give us peace, peace of soul. Let us open the doors to Christ!
Let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, in order that we might live a truly Christian Christmas, free from all worldliness, ready to receive the Savior, who is God-with-us.
Translation by Diane Montagna of Aleteia’s English edition.