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Papa Francisco's homily at Mass on Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
St Peter's Basilica , Wednesday 1 January 2020 - also in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"“When the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of woman” (Gal 4, 4). Born of woman: Jesus came in this way. He did not appear in the world as an adult but, as the Gospel tells us, he was “conceived in the womb” (Lk 2, 21); there he made our humanity his own, day after day, month after month. In the womb of a woman God and humanity are united, never to be separated again: even now, in heaven, Jesus lives in the flesh which he took in his mother’s womb. In God, there is our human flesh!

On the first day of the year we celebrate this nuptial union between God and man, inaugurated in the womb of a woman. In God, there will forever be our humanity and forever
Mary will be the Mother of God. She is woman and mother, this is the essential. From her, woman, came forth salvation and thus there is no salvation without the woman. In her God was united to us and, if we want to unite ourselves to Him, we pass through the same road: through Mary, woman and mother. That is why we begin the year in the sign of Our Lady, the woman who wove the humanity of God. If we want to weave humanity into this our time, we must restart from the woman.

Born of woman. The rebirth of humanity began from the woman. Women are sources of life. Yet they are continually insulted, beaten, raped, forced to prostitute themselves and to suppress the life they bear in the womb. Every violence inflicted upon a woman is a blasphemy against God, born of woman.
From the body of a woman arrived the salvation for humanity: by how we treat a woman’s body we understand our level of humanity. How many times a woman's body is sacrificed on the profane altars of advertising, of profiteering, of pornography, exploited like a surface to be used. Yet women’s bodies must be freed from consumerism; they must be respected and honoured. Theirs is the most noble flesh in the world, for it conceived and brought to light the love that has saved us! In our day, too, motherhood is demeaned, because the only growth that interests us is economic growth. There are mothers who risk difficult journeys desperately seeking to give a better future to the fruit of their womb, yet are deemed redundant by people with full stomachs but hearts empty of love.

Born of woman. According to the story of the Bible, the woman arrives at the culmination of creation, as the summary of the entire created world. For she holds within herself the goal of creation itself: the generation and safekeeping of life, communion with everything, taking care of everything. That is what Our Lady does in the Gospel today. The text says, “Mary kept all these things, pondering on them in her heart” (v 19). She kept everything: the joy at the birth of Jesus and the sadness for the hospitality denied in Bethlehem; the love of Joseph and the amazement of the shepherds; the promises and the uncertainty of the future. She took everything to heart and in her heart she put everything in place, even the adversities. Because in her heart she arranged each thing with love and entrusted everything to God.

In the Gospel, this action of Mary returns a second time: at the end of the hidden life of Jesus it is said in fact that “his mother kept all these things in her heart” (v 51). This repetition makes us understand that to keep in her heart was not a nice gesture that Our Lady did from time to time, but her habit. It is proper to woman to take life to heart. The woman shows that the meaning of living is not to continue producing things but to take to heart the things that are there. Only those who look with the heart see well, because they know how "to see inside": the person beyond his mistakes, the brother more than his frailties, the hope in difficulty; see God in everything.

As we begin the new year, let us ask ourselves: Do I know how to look with the heart? Do I know how to look
with my heart at people? Do I take to heart the people with whom I live, or do I destroy them with gossip? And above all, do I have the Lord at the centre of my heart? Or other values, other interests, my promotion, riches, power? Only if we take life to heart will we know how to take care of it and overcome the indifference that surrounds us. Let us ask for this grace: to live the year with the desire to take others to heart, to take care of others. And if we want a better world, that is a house of peace and not a courtyard of war, may we take to heart the dignity of each woman. From a woman was born the Prince of peace. Woman is giver and mediator of peace and should be fully associated with decision-making processes. Because when women can transmit their gifts, the world finds itself more united and more at peace. Hence, an achievement for woman is an achievement for the whole of humanity.

Born of woman. Jesus, newly born, was reflected in the eyes of a woman, in the face of his mother. From her he received the first caresses, with her he exchanged the first smiles. With her he inaugurated the revolution of tenderness. The Church, looking at baby Jesus, is called to continue it. She too, in fact, like Mary, is woman and mother. The Church is woman and mother, and in Our Lady she finds her distinctive traits. She sees her, immaculate, and feels called to say "no" to sin and to worldliness. She sees her, fruitful, and feels called to announce the Lord, to give birth to him in lives. She sees her, mother, and she feels called to welcome every man as a son.

In drawing close to Mary the Church discovers herself, she rediscovers her centre, she rediscovers her unity. The enemy of human nature, the devil, seeks instead to divide her, putting in the foreground the differences, ideologies, partisan thinking and parties. But we do not understand the Church if we look at her starting from structures, starting from programmes and trends, from ideologies, from functionalities: we will grasp something, but not the heart of the Church. Because the Church has a mother’s heart. And we children invoke today the Mother of God, who unites us as a beliving people. O Mother, generate in us hope, bring unity to us. Woman of salvation, to you we entrust this year, keep it in your heart. We acclaim you: Holy Mother of God. All together, three times, let us acclaim the Lady, standing, Our Lady Holy Mother of God: [with the assembly] Holy Mother of God, Holy Mother of God, Holy Mother of God!"