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During the first Angelus of 2018, on this World Day for Peace, the pontiff spoke of the need to give hope to the weak and the underprivileged. Pope Francis reiterated his call for a “horizon of peace” for migrants and refugees. They are, he emphasized, the “weakest and most needy” who have a right, as do all people, to live in peace.
“Let us not extinguish hope in their hearts; let us not suffocate their expectations of peace! It is important that civil institutions and educational, social, and ecclesial organizations all commit themselves to guaranteeing a future of peace for refugees, for migrants, and for all,” said the Holy Father today, during the first Angelus of the year, held after the celebration of Mass on the occasion of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the World Day of Peace.
“May the Lord grant us to work this year with generosity, to create a world that is more welcoming and with greater solidarity,” said the pope from his window at the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, before praying the Angelus, during which he greeted a crowd of locals and pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square numbering approximately 40,000 people, according to Vatican police.
The pope entrusted the recently-begun year 2018 to “Mary, Mother of God and our Mother.”
“We fly to thy protection, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin,” said the pope, in the words of an ancient prayer.
Speaking spontaneously, he mentioned Russian monks of the past who taught that, in moments of spiritual turbulence, we should entrust our sufferings and sorrows to the Virgin Mary.
In line with this, he entrusted to the Virgin Mary the people who are most persecuted today, and whose numbers exceed those seen in Europe during World War II: migrants and refugees.
“It is precisely to these people that I have dedicated the subject of the World Day of Peace: ‘Migrants and Refugees: men and women in search of peace,’” he said.
“Once again, I would like to be the voice of these brothers and sisters of ours who hope for a horizon of peace for their future. To attain this peace, which is a right for all people, many of them are willing to risk their lives on a journey which, in most cases, is long and dangerous; they are willing to face difficulties and suffering.”
“On this first day of the solar year, let us fix our gaze on [Mary, the Mother of God], and to give a new start, under her maternal protection, to our long journey through the paths of time,” the pope said.
The path of our salvation passes through the stable in Bethlehem. “The shepherds went with haste and found Mary, Joseph, and the Child; and they reported what the angels had announced to them—that is to say, that the Newborn is the Savior. All are amazed, while ‘Mary, on her part, kept all these things, meditating on them in her heart’” said Pope Francis, recounting the day’s Gospel (Luke 2:16-21).
The pope encouraged his listeners to keep the meaning of Christmas in their hearts as the Virgin Mary did, not in a superficial way.
She shows us the true way to receive God’s gift: keeping it in our hearts and meditating on it. Pope Francis emphasized the importance of contemplative prayer and of savoring “this gift, which is Jesus himself.”
The pope underlined that Mary is the first disciple of Jesus: “Mary’s maternity isn’t reduced just to that: thanks to her faith, she is also Jesus’ first disciple, and that ‘expands’ her maternity.”
“Mary’s faith will be what provokes the first miraculous ‘sign’ in Cana, which helps to awaken the disciples’ faith. Mary is present at the foot of the cross with that same faith, and receives the apostle John as a son; and lastly, after the Resurrection, she becomes the praying mother of the Church, on whom descends the Holy Spirit with power on the day of Pentecost,” the pope continued.
“As a mother, Mary carries out a very special function: she is located between her Son Jesus and other human beings in their situation of privations, neediness, and suffering.”
“Mary intercedes, as in Cana, aware that, inasmuch as she is a mother, she can—and, in fact, should—make present to her Son the needs of men, especially the weakest and most disfavored.”
At the end of the Angelus, the pope wished everyone a happy new year. He greeted and encouraged all the individuals and organizations that work to build peace in the world.
“Once again, I wish you all a peaceful new year in the Lord’s grace and with the maternal protection of Mary, the Mother of God. Have a good year and a good lunch, and don’t forget to pray for me. See you soon!” he said.