1. In directing our
gaze to Christ, the Jubilee also invites us to turn our eyes towards
Mary. We cannot separate the Son from the Mother, because "being
born of Mary" belongs to Jesus' personal identity. In the very first
formulas of faith, Jesus is acknowledged as the Son of God and Son
of Mary. Tertullian, for example, recalls this when he states: "We
must believe in one God, the Almighty, the Creator of the world, and
in his Son, Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary" (De virg. vel.,
As Mother, Mary was the first human person to rejoice over a birth
that marked a new era in the religious history of humanity. From the
angel's message she knew what her child's extraordinary destiny
would be in the plan of salvation. Mary's joy lies at the root of
all Jubilees to come. The Jubilee we are going to celebrate was thus
prepared in her maternal heart. For this reason, the Blessed Virgin
must be "indirectly" present, so to speak, in dealing with the
themes planned throughout the preparatory phase (cf. Tertio
millennio adveniente, n. 43). Our Jubilee will have to be a sharing
in her joy.
2. The inseparability of Christ and Mary comes from the Father's
sovereign will in carrying out the plan of the Incarnation. As St
Paul says, "when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son,
born of woman" (Gal 4:4).
The Father wanted a mother for his incarnate Son, so that he would
be born in a truly human way. At the same time, he wanted a virginal
mother as a sign of the child's divine sonship.
To make this motherhood a reality, the Father asked Mary for her
consent. The angel explained the divine plan to her and waited for
an answer, which had to come from her free will. This can be clearly
seen in the Annunciation account, which stresses that Mary posed a
question that reveals her intention to remain a virgin. When the
angel explained to her that the obstacle would be overcome through
the action of the Holy Spirit, she gave her consent.
3. "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according
to your word" (Lk 1:38). Mary's acceptance of the divine plan had an
immense effect on the whole future of mankind. We can say that the
"yes" she expressed at the time of the Annunciation changed the face
of the world. It was a "yes" to the coming of the One who was to
free human beings from the slavery of sin and win for them the
divine life of grace. A future of happiness for the universe was
made possible by this "yes" from the young woman of Nazareth.
A wondrous event! The praise that wells up from Elizabeth's heart in
the story of the Visitation aptly expresses the joy of all humanity:
"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your
womb!" (Lk 1:42).
4. From the moment of Mary's consent, the mystery of the Incarnation
becomes a reality. The Son of God enters our world and begins to
live as a man, while remaining fully God. From that moment Mary
becomes the Mother of God.
This is the highest title that can be given to a creature. It is
totally justified in Mary's case, because a mother is mother of the
person of her son in the complete fullness of his humanity. Mary is
the "Mother of God" inasmuch as she is the Mother of the "Son of
God", even if this motherhood is defined in the context of the
mystery of the Incarnation.
It was precisely this insight which gave rise to the title of
Theotókos, Mother of God, in the hearts and on the lips of
Christians from the third century. The most ancient prayer addressed
to Mary originated in Egypt and asks for her help in difficult
circumstances, invoking her as "Mother of God".
Later, when some challenged the legitimacy of this title, the
Council of Ephesus solemnly approved it in 431, and its truth has
prevailed in doctrinal language and in prayer.
5. By her divine motherhood Mary fully opened her heart to Christ,
and in him to all humanity. Mary's total dedication to the work of
the Son is especially shown by her participation in his sacrifice.
According to John's testimony, the Mother of Jesus "stood by the
cross" (Jn 19:25). She thus united herself to all the sufferings
that Jesus endured. She shared in the generous offering of his
sacrifice for the salvation of mankind.
This association with Christ's sacrifice brought about a new
motherhood in Mary. She who suffered for all men became the mother
of all men. Jesus himself proclaimed this new motherhood when he
said to her from the height of the cross: "Woman, behold, your son"
(Jn 19:26). Mary thus became the mother of the beloved disciple and,
in Jesus' intention, the mother of every disciple, every Christian.
Mary's universal motherhood, intended to foster life according to
the Spirit, is an extraordinary gift to humanity from Christ
crucified. Jesus said to the beloved disciple: "Behold, your
mother". And from that hour he "took her to his own home" (Jn
19:27), or better, "among his possessions", among the precious gifts
left him by the crucified Master.
The words, "Behold, your mother", are addressed to each of us. We
are invited to love Mary as Christ loved her, to welcome her into
our lives as our Mother, to let her lead us along the ways of the
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
I warmly greet the pilgrims from the parish of Olari, Finland,
accompanied by Bishop Paul Verschuren of Helsinki. I extend a
special welcome to the Oki Sono Ayako group from Japan and to the
members of the Chief Executives Organization from the United States.
Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially
those from England, Sweden, Finland, Australia, the Philippines,
Japan and the United States of America, I invoke the abundant
blessings of almighty God.
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