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The second word on which I would like to meditate is another word of the Angel's: "Do not fear, Mary", he says. In fact, there was reason for her to fear, for it was a great burden to bear the weight of the world upon herself, to be the Mother of the universal King, to be the Mother of the Son of God: what a burden that was! It was too heavy a burden for human strength to bear! But the Angel said: "Do not fear! Yes, you are carrying God, but God is carrying you. Do not fear!".

These words, "Do not fear", must have deeply penetrated Mary's heart. We can imagine how in various situations the Virgin must have pondered on those words, she must have heard them again.

 

At the moment when Simeon said to her: "This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed - and you yourself will be pierced with a sword", at that very moment in which she might have succumbed to fear, Mary returned to the Angel's words and felt their echo within her: "Do not fear, God is carrying you". Then, when contradictions were unleashed against Jesus during his public life and many said, "He is crazy", she thought once again of the Angel's words in her heart; "Do not fear", and went ahead. Lastly, in the encounter on the way to Calvary and then under the Cross, when all seemed to be destroyed, she again heard the Angel's words in her heart: "Do not fear". Hence, she stood courageously beside her dying Son and, sustained by faith, moved towards the Resurrection, towards Pentecost, towards the foundation of the new family of the Church.

 

"Do not fear": Mary also addresses these words to us. I have already pointed out that this world of ours is a world of fear: the fear of misery and poverty, the fear of illness and suffering, the fear of solitude, the fear of death. We have in this world a widely developed insurance system; it is good that it exists. But we know that at the moment of deep suffering, at the moment of the ultimate loneliness of death, no insurance policy will be able to protect us. The only valid insurance in those moments is the one that comes to us from the Lord, who also assures us: "Do not fear, I am always with you". We can fall, but in the end we fall into God's hands, and God's hands are good hands.

 

The third word: at the end of the colloquium, Mary answered the Angel, "I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say". Thus, Mary anticipated the "Our Father's" third invocation: "Your will be done". She said "yes" to God's great will, a will apparently too great for a human being; Mary said "yes" to this divine will, she placed herself within this will, placed her whole life with a great "yes" within God's will, and thus opened the world's door to God.

 

Adam and Eve, with their "no" to God's will, had closed this door. "Let God's will be done": Mary invites us too to say this "yes" which sometimes seems so difficult. We are tempted to prefer our own will, but she tells us: "Be brave, you too say: "Your will be done', because this will is good". It might at first seem an unbearable burden, a yoke impossible to bear; but in reality, God's will is not a burden, God's will gives us wings to fly high and thus we too can dare, with Mary, to open the door of our lives to God, the doors of this world, by saying "yes" to his will, aware that this will is the true good and leads us to true happiness. Let us pray to Mary, Comfort of the Afflicted, our Mother, the Mother of the Church, to give us the courage to say this "yes" and also to give us this joy of being with God and to lead us to his Son, to true life. Amen!

Beloved Pope John Paul II, who was very devoted to St Joseph, left us a wonderful meditation dedicated to him in the Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, "The Guardian of the Redeemer".

Among the many aspects on which this Document sheds light, the silence of St Joseph is given a special emphasis. His silence is steeped in contemplation of the mystery of God in an attitude of total availability to the divine desires.

In other words, St Joseph's silence does not express an inner emptiness but, on the contrary, the fullness of the faith he bears in his heart and which guides his every thought and action.

It is a silence thanks to which Joseph, in unison with Mary, watches over the Word of God, known through the Sacred Scriptures, continuously comparing it with the events of the life of Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of the adoration of his holy will and of unreserved entrustment to his providence.

It is no exaggeration to think that it was precisely from his "father" Joseph that Jesus learned - at the human level - that steadfast interiority which is a presupposition of authentic justice, the "superior justice" which he was one day to teach his disciples (cf. Matthew 5: 20).

Let us allow ourselves to be "filled" with St Joseph's silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God's voice, we are in such deep need of it. During this season of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate inner recollection in order to welcome and cherish Jesus in our own lives.†† - Pope Benedict XVI

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter's Square
IV Sunday of Advent, 18 December 2005

 


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

In these last days of Advent the liturgy invites us to contemplate in a special way the Virgin Mary and St Joseph, who lived with unique intensity the period of expectation and preparation for Jesus' birth.

 

Today, I would like to turn my gaze to the figure of St Joseph. In today's Gospel St Luke presents the Virgin Mary as "a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David" (cf. Luke 1: 27). The Evangelist Matthew, however, places a greater emphasis on the putative father of Jesus, stressing that through him the Child belonged legally to the lineage of David and thus fulfilled the Scriptural prophecy that the Messiah would be a "son of David".

 

But Joseph's role cannot be reduced to this legal aspect. He was the model of a "just" man (Matthew 1: 19) who, in perfect harmony with his wife, welcomed the Son of God made man and watched over his human growth.

 

It is therefore particularly appropriate in the days that precede Christmas to establish a sort of spiritual conversation with St Joseph, so that he may help us live to the full this great mystery of faith.

Beloved Pope John Paul II, who was very devoted to St Joseph, left us a wonderful meditation dedicated to him in the Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, "The Guardian of the Redeemer".

 

Among the many aspects on which this Document sheds light, the silence of St Joseph is given a special emphasis. His silence is steeped in contemplation of the mystery of God in an attitude of total availability to the divine desires.

 

In other words, St Joseph's silence does not express an inner emptiness but, on the contrary, the fullness of the faith he bears in his heart and which guides his every thought and action.

 

It is a silence thanks to which Joseph, in unison with Mary, watches over the Word of God, known through the Sacred Scriptures, continuously comparing it with the events of the life of Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of the adoration of his holy will and of unreserved entrustment to his providence.

 

It is no exaggeration to think that it was precisely from his "father" Joseph that Jesus learned - at the human level - that steadfast interiority which is a presupposition of authentic justice, the "superior justice" which he was one day to teach his disciples (cf. Matthew 5: 20).

 

Let us allow ourselves to be "filled" with St Joseph's silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God's voice, we are in such deep need of it. During this season of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate inner recollection in order to welcome and cherish Jesus in our own lives.

 

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After the Angelus:

 

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for the Angelus. As the celebration of Our Lord's birth draws near let us join with Mary in prayerful trust, ready to embrace God's will as a sign of hope for our world. During these last days of the holy season of Advent, I invoke upon you and your families God's abundant Blessings of joy and peace.

 

Thank you all for this pleasant visit. Have a good Sunday!

BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter's Square
Fourth Sunday of Advent, 21 December 2008

 

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

The Gospel of this Fourth Sunday of Advent proposes to us the account of the Annunciation (Luke 1: 26-38), the mystery to which we return every day in reciting the Angelus. This prayer makes us relive the decisive moment at which God knocked at Mary's heart and, having received her "yes", began to take flesh, in her and from her. The Collect of today's Mass is the same as the one we recite at the end of the Angelus that in Italian, says: "Infondi nel nostro spirito la tua grazia, O Padre. Tu che all'annunzio dell'Angelo ci hai rivelato l'incarnazione del tuo Figlio, per la sua passione e la sua croce guidaci alla gloria della risurrezione" [Fill our hearts with your love, and as you revealed to us by an angel the coming of your Son as man, so lead us through his suffering and death to the glory of his Resurrection]. With only a few days until the Feast of Christmas, we are invited to fix our gaze on the ineffable mystery that Mary treasured for nine months in her virginal womb: the mystery of God who is made man. This is the first foundation of the redemption. The second is the death and Resurrection of Jesus and these two inseparable aspects express a single divine plan: to save humanity and its history, assuming them fully by taking on the entire burden of all the evil that oppresses it.

 

Beyond its historical dimension, this mystery of salvation also has a cosmic dimension: Christ is the sun of grace who, with his life, "transfigures and enflames the expectant universe" (cf. Liturgy). The Christmas festivity is placed within and linked to the winter solstice when, in the northern hemisphere, the days begin once again to lengthen. In this regard perhaps not everyone knows that in St Peter's Square there is also a meridian; in fact, the great obelisk casts its shadow in a line that runs along the paving stones toward the fountain beneath this window and in these days, the shadow is at its longest of the year. This reminds us of the role of astronomy in setting the times of prayer. The Angelus, for example, is recited in the morning, at noon and in the evening, and clocks were regulated by the meridian which in ancient times made it possible to know the "exact midday".

 

The fact that the winter solstice occurs exactly today, 21 December, and at this very time, offers me the opportunity to greet all those who will be taking part in various capacities in the initiatives for the World Year of Astronomy, 2009, established on the fourth centenary of Galileo Galilei's first observations by telescope. Among my Predecessors of venerable memory there were some who studied this science, such as Sylvester II who taught it, Gregory XIII to whom we owe our calendar, and St Pius X who knew how to build sundials. If the heavens, according to the Psalmist's beautiful words, "are telling the glory of God" (Psalm 19[18]: 1), the laws of nature which over the course of centuries many men and women of science have enabled us to understand better are a great incentive to contemplate the works of the Lord with gratitude.

 

Let us now turn our gaze again to Mary and Joseph who were awaiting the birth of Jesus and learn from them the secret of reflection in order to taste the joy of Christmas. Let us prepare ourselves to welcome with faith the Redeemer who comes to be with us, the Word of God's love for humanity of every epoch.

 

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After the Angelus:

 

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims gathered for this Angelus. In todayís liturgy, we recall how the Virgin Mary was invited by the Angel to conceive the one in whom the fullness of divinity would dwell: Jesus, the "Son of the Most High". As we prepare to celebrate his birth, let us not be afraid to say "Yes" to the Lord, so that we may join Our Lady in singing his goodness for ever. May God bless all of you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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18 January 2015