On the final day of the Month of Mary, Pope Francis has dedicated the homily of the morning Mass celebrated at St. Martha’s House to the Virgin Mary. Taking cue from the Gospel passage that narrates Mary’s visit to St. Elizabeth and following the words of the Prophet Zephaniah in the First Reading and St. Paul’s account in the Second -, Francis describes Mary as an example of uppermost female courage, ability to reach out to the others, and of an arm stretched as a sign of support and concern.
Today’s liturgy, described as “full of joy”, which comes as a breath of “fresh air” to fill “our life”: “Christians with a grimace, sad Christians are such a terrible sight. Terrible, terrible, terrible sight. But they are not fully Christian. They think they are, but they are not entirely so. This is the Christian message. And in this atmosphere of joy, which today’s liturgy gives us as a gift, I would like to point out two things: the first one is an approach, whereas the second is a fact. The approach is service”.
Mary carries out her service without hesitation – the Pope observed. Mary, as the Gospel says, “hurried up”. She did so – Francis notes – despite she was pregnant and there was risk of encountering robbers on the road. “This 16-year-old girl, 17 at most” – he adds -” was brave. She stand up and goes out. A woman’s courage. Brave women in the bosom of the Church: they are like the Mary. These women who take care of their families, these women who take care of their children’s education, who face many hardships and so much pain, women who cure the sick… Brave: they stand up and serve, serve. Service is a Christian sign. Who does not live to serve, does not serve to live. Service in joy, this is the attitude I want to emphasize today. There is joy and service.”
The second point on which Bergoglio dwells is the encounter between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, also expecting a child who was to be Prophet John. “These two women – the Pope points out – meet up and they do so with joy”, that moment is full of “pure joy.” If “we learned this, service and reaching out to the others,” Francis says, “the world would change a lot. Meeting people is another Christian sign. A person who claims to be Christian and is not able to reach out to the others, to meet the other, is not entirely Christian.”
“Both service and encounter require us to get out of ourselves: get out to serve and get out to meet the other and embrace another person. It is with Mary’s service, with this meeting, that the Lord renews His promise, which takes place in the present, in that present. And the Lord Himself – as we have heard in the first reading: ‘The Lord your God is in your midst”- the Lord is in service, the Lord is in the encounter,” the Pope has concluded.