Friday, December 31, 2021

On the eve of the Solemnity of Mary, Pope Francis at Vespers and Te Deum


Pope at Te Deum: May Christmas amazement lead to gratitude and solidarity

In his homily for the celebration of Vespers and the recitation of the Te Deum on New Year's Eve, Pope Francis reflects on the year drawing to a close, and reminds us of the need to trust always in the Lord.

By Vatican News staff writer

During the Vespers celebration led by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Pope Francis gave his homily recalling the Christmas liturgy of these days when the mystery of the Incarnation evokes in us a sense of amazement, wonder, and contemplation.

He described how the "holy wonder" of Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds of Bethlehem should also inspire our own amazement in grasping the heart of the mystery of Christ's birth. And this sense of amazement needs to be profound, touching our hearts and minds, or nothing will change in our lives or societies, he noted.

Eyes open to the mystery of reality

The reality that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" reminds us of how in this liturgy which opens the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, that Mary is the first witness of this event, the Pope explained.

She is also the greatest witness due to her humility, he added, describing how her heart was "filled with amazement," but grounded in reality "without the shadow of romanticism, of sweeteners, of spiritualization." He added that our own Christian amazement is not based on "special effects" or "fantasy worlds," but from the mystery of reality itself, like the beauty of a flower, a life story or encounter, "the wrinkled face of an elderly person or the blooming face of a newborn baby." There "the mystery shines."

Amazement filled with gratitude

The Pope pointed out how "Mary’s amazement, the Church’s amazement, is filled with gratitude," realizing that "God has not abandoned his people, that he has come, is near, is God-with-us."

While our life's problems and challenges remain, we are consoled knowing that "we are not alone," that God loves us and redeems us "to restore our dignity as children."

Responding with solidarity

The pandemic has created "a sense of being lost," the Pope observed, when at the start there seemed be a feeling of solidarity that we are all in the same boat followed by a temptation of "everyone out for themselves."

"Thank God we reacted again with a sense of responsibility," the Pope added, and we must all have this gratitude to God since the choice to be "responsible in solidarity" comes from God, from Jesus "who has once and for all impressed on our history the 'route' of our original calling: to be brothers and sisters all, children of the same Father."

Welcoming care for the dignity of life

Reflecting on the city of Rome, the Pope noted how this calling to solidarity is "written in its heart," and comes from its history and culture rooted in the Gospel of Christ "that laid down deep roots here, made fruitful by the blood of the martyrs."

But he said a welcome and fraternal city is recognised by how well it assists the vulnerable, families weighed down by the crisis, those with serious disabilities, and so forth. He noted how Rome is a "wonderful city," but also a difficult place while it endeavours to live up to the calling to provide "welcoming care for the dignity of life, for our common home, for the weakest and most vulnerable."

In conclusion, the Pope encouraged everyone to look to the Blessed Mother who "smiles at us" and tells us to trust and follow the Lord, who "brings time to its fullness," gives meaning to our lives and all we do.

"Let us trust in joyful times and in sorrowful times: the hope He gives us is a hope that never disappoints."

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