Today, the feast of the Immaculate Conception makes us contemplate Our Lady who, by a singular privilege, was preserved from Original Sin from her conception. Although living in the world marked by sin, she was not touched by it: she is our Sister in suffering, but not in evil and in sin. In fact, evil was defeated in her even before grazing her, because God filled her with grace (cf. Luke 1:28). The Immaculate Conception means that Mary is the first saved by the Father’s infinite mercy, as the first fruit of the salvation that God wills to give, in Christ, every man and woman. Therefore, the Immaculate <Virgin> became the sublime icon of Divine Mercy that has conquered sin. And we, today, at the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy, want to look at this icon with confident love and contemplate her in all her splendor, 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 the Son and the Holy Spirit. The dawn of the new creation wrought by Divine Mercy. Therefore, the Virgin Mary, never contaminated by sin and always full of God, is Mother of a new humanity. She is mother of a recreated world.
To celebrate this feast implies two things: to receive God fully and His merciful grace in our life; to become in turn architects of mercy through a genuine evangelical journey. Therefore, the feast of the Immaculate Conception becomes the feast of us all if, with our daily “yes,” we are able to overcome our egoism and to render the lives of our brothers happier, to give them hope, drying tears and giving a bit of joy. In imitation of Mary, we are called to become bearers of Christ and witnesses of His love, looking first of all at those who are the privileged ones in Jesus’ eyes. They are those who He himself indicated: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35-36).
Today’s feast of the Immaculate Conception has a specific message to communicate to us: it reminds us that in our life everything is gift, everything is mercy. May the Holy Virgin, first fruit of the saved, model of the Church, holy and immaculate Bride loved by the Lord, help us to rediscover always more divine mercy as the distinguishing mark of a Christian. It is the word-synthesis of the Gospel: mercy. It is the fundamental feature of Christ’s face, that face that we recognize in the different aspects of His existence: when He goes to encounter all, when He cures the sick, when He sits at table with sinners, and especially when, nailed to the cross, He forgives. We see there the face of Divine Mercy. Let’s not be afraid: let us allow ourselves to be embraced by the mercy of God that waits for us and pardons everything. Nothing is sweeter than His mercy. Let’s let ourselves be caressed by God: He is so good, the Lord, and He pardons everything.
Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, may mercy take possession of our hearts and transform our whole life.
After the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet you all affectionately, especially the families, the parish groups and associations. A special thought goes to the members of Italian Catholic Action that renew today their adherence to the association: I wish you a good journey of formation and service, always animated by prayer.
This afternoon, I will go to Piazza di Spagna, to pray at the foot of the monument to the Immaculate Conception. And then I will go to Santa Maria Maggiore. I ask you to join me spiritually in this pilgrimage, which is an act of filial devotion to Mary, Mother of Mercy. I will entrust to her the Church and the whole of humanity, particularly the city of Rome.
Today, also Pope Benedict crossed the Door of Mercy. Let’s send him a salute from here, everyone to Pope Benedict!
I wish you all a happy feast and a Holy Year rich in fruits, with the guidance and intercession of our Mother. A year full of mercy for all of you, and from you, for others. Please, ask this of the Lord, also for me, of which I have a great need! Have a good lunch and good-bye.