Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – “Everything is given freely by God, all is grace, all is a gift of His love for us”. This, said Pope Francis, is the message of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, appearing at the window of his study to pray the Angelus at midday with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Holy Father explained that in the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel called Mary “full of grace”, since “in her there was no space for sin: God had always chosen her as the mother of Jesus, and so He protected her from original sin. Mary corresponds to this grace and abandons herself to it, saying to the Angel, 'Be it done to me according to your word'. She does not say 'I will do it according to your word', but rather, 'Be it done to me…'. And the Word was made flesh in her womb. We too are asked to listen to God Who speaks to us and to accept His will; according to the logic of the Gospel, nothing is more active and fruitful than to listen and receive the Word of the Lord”.
The attitude of Mary of Nazareth “shows us that being comes before doing, and we must let God act in order to truly become what He wants us to be. It is He Who works so many marvels in us. Mary is receptive, but not passive. Just as, at a physical level, she receives the power of the Holy Spirit but then gives flesh and blood to the Son of God Who grows in her, she also receives grace and corresponds with faith, on a spiritual level. This mystery of the acceptance of grace, that in Mary by unique privilege was without the obstacle of sin, is a possibility for all. … As Mary is greeted by St. Elizabeth as 'blessed among women', so we too have always been 'blessed', that is, loved, and therefore 'chosen first from the creation of the world to be holy and immaculate'. Mary was preserved, whereas we have been saved thanks to baptism and faith: all of us, however, Mary and ourselves, through Christ”.
“Faced with love, faced with mercy, with the divine grace poured into our hearts, just one consequence is imposed: gratuity. None of us can buy salvation! Salvation is a gift freely given by the Lord, a free gift from God who comes to us and abides in us. In the same way as we have received his gift freely, so we are called to freely give, in imitation of Mary, who straight after having received the Annunciation of the Angel, goes to share the gift of her fertility with her relative Elizabeth. Because, if all has been given, everything must be given again in turn. How? By letting the Holy Spirit make of us a gift for others. The Spirit is a gift for us and we, through the Spirit, must be a gift for others and enable the Holy Spirit to make us into instruments of acceptance, instruments of reconciliation, instruments of forgiveness”.
“If our existence is allowed to be transformed by the Lord's grace, so that the Lord's grace may transform us, we cannot keep for ourselves the light that comes from His face, but must instead pass it on so that it may illuminate others”.