Through Mary, “we learn to open our hearts to obey God; in her self-denial, we see the importance of tending to the needs of others; in her tears, we find the strength to console those experiencing pain,” Pope Francis said Saturday, during a special jubilee weekend dedicated to Mary.
ROME – During a special Jubilee weekend dedicated to Mary, Pope Francis said Mary was not only Christ’s mother, but also his obedient disciple and a model of concrete service to others.
With her faith, “we learn to open our hearts to obey God; in her self-denial, we see the importance of tending to the needs of others; in her tears, we find the strength to console those experiencing pain.”
In each of these moments, Mary “expresses the wealth of divine mercy that reaches out to all in their daily need.”
Pope Francis spoke to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate a special Oct. 7-9 Marian Jubilee, which is part of the Pope’s larger Jubilee of Mercy.
The Marian Jubilee opened Oct. 7 with Mass in the Roman Basilica of Saint Mary Major. The Mass was followed by the recitation of the rosary in Saint Peter’s Square and the Prayer to the Queen of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii.
Adoration and confessions were then available until midnight in the parishes of Santa Maria in Valicella, also called “Chiesa Nuova,” and San Salvatore in Lauro.
Jubilee activities continued Saturday morning with a pilgrimage to the Holy Doors of the four Major Basilicas in Rome: St. Mary Major, St. Paul Outside the Wall, St. John Lateran and St. Peter’s.
Groups of various Marian delegations from national communities and shrines then participated in a special procession to St. Peter’s Square, where Pope Francis led pilgrims in praying the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary before delivering his address.
In his speech, the Pope noted how from the earliest centuries of the Church Mary has been invoked as the “Mother of Mercy,” explaining that the prayer of the rosary in many ways is a “synthesis of the history of God’s mercy, which becomes a history of salvation for all who let themselves be shaped by grace.”
By reflecting on the important moments in Jesus’ life, we see how his mercy is shown to everyone from all walks and stages of life, he said, adding that Mary always accompanies us on this journey, pointing us in the direction of her Son, “who radiates the very mercy of the Father.”
Mary guides us toward the path we are called to take “in order to be true disciples of Jesus,” he said, adding that in praying the rosary, we feel her closeness in each mystery and contemplate her role as “the first disciple of her Son, for she does the Father’s will.
Francis stressed that Mary can help teach us what it means to be a disciple of Christ, because while she was “eternally chosen to be his Mother,” she also learned how to be his disciple.
“Her first act was to listen to God,” he said, noting how she then obeyed the angel’s message and followed Jesus closely, “listening to every word that issued from his lips” and keeping them in her heart.
However, the Pope stressed, “it’s not enough simply to listen.” While this is the first step, it must be followed by concrete action.
“The disciple truly puts his life at the service of the Gospel,” he said, and, recalling Mary’s own actions, pointed to how after the Annunciation, Mary immediately went to her cousin Elizabeth to help her during her pregnancy.
Not only did she then give birth to the Son of God, but she also showed her concern for the young spouses in Cana by interceding for them. When Jesus was crucified on Golgotha, Mary “did not flee pain but stood beneath the cross of Jesus and, by his will, became the Mother of the Church.”
After Jesus rose from the dead, she then “encouraged the apostles assembled in the upper room as they awaited the Holy Spirit, who would make them fearless heralds of the Gospel,” Pope Francis said.
Francis closed his homily invoking Mary’s intercession, praying that she would be “a protection, help and blessing for us all the days of our life.”
“We fly to your protection, holy Mother of God. Scorn not our petitions in the hour of need. O glorious and blessed Virgin, deliver us always from every peril.
Celebrations for the Marian Jubilee will conclude Sunday with a special Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square.