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Mary's participation in the public life of the Son
(Mk 3, 32-35)

Blessed John Paul II's Catechesis
12 March 1997 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. After recalling Mary’s intervention at the wedding feast of Cana, the Second Vatican Council emphasizes her participation in the public life of Jesus: “In the course of her Son’s preaching she received the words whereby, in extolling a kingdom beyond the concerns and ties of flesh and blood, he declared blessed those who heard and kept the word of God (cf. Mk 3:35 par.; Lk 11: 27-28) as she was faithfully doing (cf. Lk 2:19, 51)” (Lumen gentium, n. 58).

The beginning of Jesus’ mission also meant separation from his Mother, who did not always follow her son in his travels on the roads of Palestine. Jesus deliberately chose separation from his Mother and from family affection, as can be inferred from the conditions he gave his disciples for following him and for dedicating themselves to proclaiming God’s kingdom.

Nevertheless, Mary sometimes heard her Son’s preaching. We can assume that she was present in the synagogue of Nazareth when Jesus, after reading Isaiah’s prophecy, commented on the text and applied it to himself (cf. Lk 4:18-30). How much she must have suffered on that occasion, after sharing the general amazement at “the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Lk 4:22), as she observed the harsh hostility of her fellow citizens who drove Jesus from the synagogue and even tried to kill him! The drama of that moment is evident in the words of the Evangelist Luke: “They rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But passing through the midst of them he went away” (4:29-30).

Realizing after this event that there would be other trials, Mary confirmed and deepened her total obedience to the Father’s will, offering him her suffering as a mother and her loneliness.

2. According to the Gospels, Mary had the opportunity to hear her Son on other occasions as well. First at Capernaum, where Jesus went after the wedding feast of Cana, “with his mother and his brethren and his disciples” (Jn 2:12). For the Passover, moreover, she was probably able to follow him to the temple in Jerusalem, which Jesus called his Father's house and for which he was consumed with zeal (cf. Jn 2:16-17). Finding herself later among the crowd and not being able to approach Jesus, she hears him replying to those who had told him that she and their relatives had arrived: “My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Lk 8:21).

With these words, Christ, although relativizing family ties, is addressing great praise to his Mother by affirming a far loftier bond with her. Indeed, in listening to her Son, Mary accepts all his words and faithfully puts them into practice.

We can imagine that, although she did not follow Jesus on his missionary journey, she was informed of her Son’s apostolic activities, lovingly and anxiously receiving news of his preaching from the lips of those who had met him.

Separation did not mean distance of heart, nor did it prevent the Mother from spiritually following her Son, from keeping and meditating on his teaching as she had done during Jesus’ hidden life in Nazareth. Her faith in fact enabled her to grasp the meaning of Jesus’ words before and better than his disciples, who often did not understand his teaching, especially the references to his future Passion (cf. Mt 16:21-23; Mk 9:32; Lk 9:45).

3. Following the events in her Son’s life, Mary shared in his drama of experiencing rejection from some of the chosen people. This rejection first appeared during his visit to Nazareth and became more and more obvious in the words and attitudes of the leaders of the people.

In this way the Blessed Virgin would often have come to know the criticism, insults and threats directed at Jesus. In Nazareth too she would have frequently been troubled by the disbelief of relatives and acquaintances who would try to use Jesus (cf. Jn 7:2-5) or to stop his mission (Mk 3:21).

Through this suffering borne with great dignity and hiddenness, Mary shares the journey of her Son “to Jerusalem” (Lk 9:51) and, more and more closely united with him in faith, hope and love, she co-operates in salvation.

4. The Blessed Virgin thus becomes a model for those who accept Christ’s words. Believing in the divine message since the Annunciation and fully supporting the Person of the Son, she teaches us to listen to the Saviour with trust, to discover in him the divine Word who transforms and renews our life. Her experience also encourages us to accept the trials and suffering that come from fidelity to Christ, keeping our gaze fixed on the happiness Jesus promised those who listen to him and keep his word."


After his Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims at the General Audience in numerous languages:

"Je suis heureux d'accueillir les pèlerins de langue française venus ce matin, notamment les jeunes et, parmi eux, les professeurs et les élèves de Sainte-Marie de Neuilly. À l'exemple de la Vierge Marie, écoutez la parole du Christ, mettez-vous à sa suite sur le chemin de Jérusalem, celui de la Croix et de la Résurrection !

De tout coeur, je vous donne la Bénédiction apostolique.

I wish to greet the English-speaking visitors, especially the pilgrim groups from Ireland, Sri Lanka, Canada and the United States. Upon all of you I cordially invoke the joy and peace of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Mit diesen Gedanken grüße ich Euch alle, die Ihr aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache nach Rom gekommen seid. Mein besonderer Gruß gilt den Seelsorgern, dem Personal und den Freunden des St. Josephs-Krankenhauses in Freiburg sowie den anwesenden Schülern und Schülerinnen aus Deutschland und Österreich. Euch allen, Euren lieben Angehörigen daheim und allen, die mit uns über Radio Vatikan und das Fernsehen verbunden sind, erteile ich von Herzen den Apostolischen Segen.

Saludo ahora con gran afecto a todos los peregrinos de lengua española, de modo particular a los jóvenes estudiantes de Rosario (Argentina) y Villaviciosa de Odón (España), así como a los fieles de Costa Rica. Que María, modelo de acogida de las enseñanzas de Cristo, acompañe vuestro itinerario espiritual en este tiempo de la cuaresma hacia el gozo pascual. Con estos deseos, os imparto la Bendición Apostólica, que de corazón extiendo también a vuestras familias.

Amados visitantes do Brasil e de Portugal, com quantos aqui se encontram de língua portuguesa: para todos, a minha saudação de boas-vindas, com votos de que a peregrinação até estes lugares santificados pela palavra e pelo sangue dos Apóstolos Pedro e Paulo incite o coração de cada um a aderir com plena disponibilidade a Cristo e ao Evangelho. Que a Virgem Maria vos acompanhe e proteja!

Saluto al Consiglio Ecumenico della Diocesi di Stoccolma (Svezia)

I warmly welcome the Ecumenical Commission of the Diocese of Stockholm. With fond memories of my visit to Sweden, I encourage you to persevere in your work for the unity of all Christians in your country.

[Traduzione italiana del saluto in lingua svedese]

Dio chiama tutti i cristiani ad essere una cosa sola.
Così possiamo insieme mostrare ai nostri contemporanei la via che porta a Gesù, l'unico Salvatore degli uomini.
Dio benedica voi e tutta la Svezia!

[Traduzione italiana del saluto in lingua ungherese]

Saluto cordialmente Voi, cari pellegrini di Budapest. Secondo le parole di Maria, Madre di Dio, facciamo anche noi tutto quello che Cristo ci dice, specialmente nel nostro cammino quaresimale. Il Signore ci aiuti a prepararci con penitenza e fede viva alla festa di pasqua. Ciò chiedo per voi, per i vostri cari e per i fratelli in patria con la mia preghiera e con la mia Benedizione Apostolica. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo.

[Traduzione italiana del saluto in lingua ceca]

Ora mi rivolgo ai cari pellegrini della Repubblica Ceca. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!
Sono lieto di vedervi riuniti qui a Roma, presso la Cattedra di Pietro. Mi auguro che da questo pellegrinaggio riportiate anche nelle vostre famiglie e comunità un arricchimento di fede e un maggiore amore e fedeltà alla Chiesa universale.
Con questi voti vi accompagni la mia Apostolica Benedizione!

[Traduzione italiana del saluto in lingua croata]

Saluto cordialmente i fedeli della Parrocchia della Santissima Trinità di Zagabria unitamente al loro parroco, come pure i Docenti, Educatori e Studenti del Collegio e Liceo Classico di Pazin. Benvenuti!
Vi auguro, carissimi, di proseguire il vostro cammino quaresimale in modo da poter celebrare con piena gioia la Pasqua, annunziando la salvezza che Gesù Cristo ha portato all'umanità intera.
Di cuore imparto la Benedizione Apostolica a ciascuno di voi ed alle vostre famiglie.
Siano lodati Gesù e Maria!

* * *

Rivolgo ora un particolare saluto ai partecipanti al Pellegrinaggio "Via Catharinae" promosso dalla Famiglia Domenicana nel 650deg. anniversario della nascita di santa Caterina da Siena. Cari fratelli e sorelle, vi ringrazio per la vostra presenza ed auspico di cuore che il vostro pellegrinaggio, in vista anche del Grande Giubileo dell'Anno 2000, contribuisca a far meglio conoscere la specificità della spiritualità cateriniana e rafforzi in tutti voi l'amore che la Santa aveva per la Chiesa.

Saluto poi il gruppo di sacerdoti e di studenti di teologia, provenienti da varie nazioni, appartenenti al Movimento dei Focolari, che partecipano ad un incontro a Loppiano. Carissimi, nell'augurarvi che questa esperienza fortifichi la vostra fede, prego il Signore perché possiate impegnarvi sempre più con generosità nel realizzare il comandamento dell'Amore che Egli ci ha lasciato come suo testamento.

Saluto altresì i numerosi gruppi di studenti con un pensiero speciale a quelli della Diocesi di Teggiano-Policastro, accompagnati dal Vescovo Monsignor Bruno Schettino, venuti a Roma nel corso del loro Sinodo Diocesano. Carissimi, confido che l'importante evento, che state celebrando, conduca ciascuno di voi ad avvicinarsi maggiormente a Cristo e ad imitarlo con sempre crescente fedeltà.

Rivolgo infine un cordiale saluto ai giovani, agli ammalati ed agli sposi novelli. In questo tempo di Quaresima, proseguiamo carissimi, con impegno il cammino verso la Pasqua, mistero centrale della nostra fede.

Invito voi, cari giovani, a testimoniare con fede gioiosa la vita che scaturisce dalla croce di Cristo.

A voi, cari ammalati, auguro di tenere fisso lo sguardo su Gesù crocifisso e risorto per saper vivere la prova del dolore come atto di amore.

E voi, cari sposi novelli, imitando la fedeltà di Cristo nei confronti della sua Chiesa, sappiate fare sempre della vostra esistenza un dono reciproco e responsabile".

Ancora voglio salutare il Coro "Tre Monti", di Montecchia di Crosara (Verona)."

© Copyright 1997 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana