Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Homily at Ephesus

Mass before the Shrine of Meryem Ana Evi
Homily of the Holy Father, Ephesus, Wed. 29 Nov. 2006

Here are some passages that stood out with salient points bolded by me.

A privileged witness to that event was the author of the Fourth Gospel, John, the only one of the Apostles to remain at Golgotha with the Mother of Jesus and the other women. Mary’s motherhood, which began with her fiat in Nazareth, is fulfilled at the foot of the Cross. Although it is true – as Saint Anselm says – that “from the moment of her fiat Mary began to carry all of us in her womb”, the maternal vocation and mission of the Virgin towards those who believe in Christ actually began when Jesus said to her: “Woman, behold your son!” (Jn 19:26). Looking down from the Cross at his Mother and the beloved disciple by her side, the dying Christ recognized the firstfruits of the family which he had come to form in the world, the beginning of the Church and the new humanity. For this reason, he addressed Mary as “Woman”, not as “Mother”, the term which he was to use in entrusting her to his disciple: “Behold your Mother!” (Jn 19:27). The Son of God thus fulfilled his mission: born of the Virgin in order to share our human condition in everything but sin, at his return to the Father he left behind in the world the sacrament of the unity of the human race (cf. Lumen Gentium, 1): the family “brought into unity from the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Saint Cyprian, De Orat. Dom., 23: PL 4, 536), at whose heart is this new bond between the Mother and the disciple. Mary’s divine motherhood and her ecclesial motherhood are thus inseparably united.

[...] The text also contains the expression that I have chosen as the motto for my Apostolic Journey: “He, Christ, is our peace” (Eph 2:14). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us that Jesus Christ has not only brought us peace, but that he is our peace. And he justifies this statement by referring to the mystery of the Cross: by shedding “his blood”, by offering in sacrifice “his flesh”, Jesus destroyed hostility “in himself” and created “in himself one new man in place of the two” (Eph 2:14-16). The Apostle explains how, in a truly unforeseen way, messianic peace has now come about in Christ’s own person and his saving mystery. He explains it by writing, during his imprisonment, to the Christian community which lived here, in Ephesus: “to the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph 1:1), as he says in the salutation of the Letter. The Apostle wishes them “grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:2). Grace is the power that transforms man and the world; peace is the mature fruit of this transformation. Christ is grace; Christ is peace. Paul knows that he has been sent to proclaim a “mystery”, a divine plan that only in the fullness of time has been carried out and revealed in Christ: namely, that “the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel” (Eph 3:6). This mystery is accomplished, in salvation history, in the Church, the new People in which, now that the old dividing wall has been broken down, Jews and pagans find themselves united. [...]

[...] Strengthened by God’s word, from here in Ephesus, a city blessed by the presence of Mary Most Holy – who we know is loved and venerated also by Muslims – let us lift up to the Lord a special prayer for peace between peoples. From this edge of the Anatolian peninsula, a natural bridge between continents, let us implore peace and reconciliation, above all for those dwelling in the Land called “Holy” and considered as such by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike: it is the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, destined to be the home of a people that would become a blessing for all the nations (cf. Gen 12:1-3). [...]

With firm trust let us sing, together with Mary, a magnificat of praise and thanksgiving to God who has looked with favour upon the lowliness of his servant (cf. Lk 1:48). Let us sing joyfully, even when we are tested by difficulties and dangers, as we have learned from the fine witness given by the Roman priest Don Andrea Santoro, whom I am pleased to recall in this celebration. Mary teaches us that the source of our joy and our one sure support is Christ, and she repeats his words: “Do not be afraid” (Mk 6:50), “I am with you” (Mt 28:20). Mary, Mother of the Church, accompany us always on our way! Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us! Aziz Meryem Mesih’in Annesi bizim için Dua et. Amen.

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