“Mary was the first to be saved by the infinite mercy of the Father”
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VATICAN CITY — Following the celebration of Holy Mass on Tuesday, December 8, Pope Francis came to the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
Here below we publish a full English translation of the Holy Father’s words before the Angelus, followed by special greetings to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
“Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning and happy feast day.
Today, the feast of the Immaculate Conception has us contemplate Our Lady, who by a singular privilege, was preserved from original sin from conception. Though living in a world marked by sin, she was not touched by it: Mary is our sister in suffering, but not in evil and sin. Indeed, in her, evil was defeated even before it faded her [beauty], for God filled her with grace (cf. Luke 1:28). The Immaculate Conception means that Mary was the first to be saved by the infinite mercy of the Father, as the first fruits of the salvation which God wills to grant to every man and woman, in Christ. The Immaculate One has therefore become the sublime image of the divine mercy which has conquered sin. And we, today, at the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy, want to look to this icon of trusting love and contemplate her in all her splendor, by imitating her faith.
In the Immaculate Conception of Mary we are invited to recognize the dawn of the new world, transformed by the saving work of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The dawn of the new creation brought into being by divine mercy. That is why the Virgin Mary, who was never infected by sin and was always filled with God, is the mother of a new humanity. She is the mother of the world recreated.
Celebrating this feast involves two things. First, fully welcoming God and his merciful grace in our lives. Second, becoming in turn artisans of mercy through a journey permeated with the Gospel. The feast of the Immaculate [Conception] thus becomes a feast for all of us. Through our daily “yes,” we succeed in conquering our selfishness and making the lives of our brothers and sisters happier, in giving them hope, drying their tears and giving them a little joy.
In imitation of Mary, we are called to become bearers of Christ and witnesses to his love, by looking first and foremost to those who are privileged in Jesus’ eyes. They are the ones he himself indicated: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me” (Matt 25:35-36).
Today’s feast of the Immaculate Conception has a specific message to communicate to us: it reminds us that everything in our lives is a gift, everything is mercy. May the Holy Virgin, the first fruits of those who are saved, the model of the Church, the holy and immaculate bride, loved by the Lord, help us to rediscover divine mercy as the distinguishing feature of a Christian. One cannot understand a true Christian who is not merciful, just as one cannot understand God without his mercy. It is the word that sums up the Gospel: mercy. It is the fundamental feature of the Face of Christ: that Face in which we see the various aspects of his life: when he goes to meet others, when he heals the sick, when he sits at table with sinners, and above all, when nailed to the Cross, he forgives. There we see the Face of divine mercy.
Let us not be afraid. Let us allow ourselves to be embraced by the mercy of God who is waiting for us, and who forgives everything. Nothing is sweeter than his mercy. Let us allow ourselves to be caressed by God. The Lord is so good, and he forgives everything.
Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, may mercy take hold of our hearts and transform our entire life.”
Following the Angelus, Pope Francis invited the faithful to greet Benedict XVI, saying:
“Today, Pope Benedict also passed through the Door of Mercy. From here, let us send him our greetings, everyone, to Pope Benedict!”
He concluded his remarks, saying:
“I wish everyone a blessed feast day and a Holy Year rich in fruits, through the guidance and intercession of our Mother. May it be a Holy Year full of mercy for you, and from you, for others. Please, ask this of the Lord also for me, because I need it very much! Have a good lunch and good-bye.”
Translation by Diane Montagnaof Aleteia’s English edition.