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Papa Francis's Homily at Holy Mass on the occasion of the 1050th Anniversary of the Baptism of Poland
Area near the Shrine of Częstochowa, Thursday, 28 July 2016 - in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"From the readings of this Liturgy a divine thread emerges, which passes through human history and weaves the history of salvation.

The Apostle Paul tells us of God’s great plan: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Gal 4, 4). However, history tells us that when this “fullness of time” came, that is when God became man, humanity was not particularly well-disposed, nor was there even a period of stability and peace: there was not a “Golden Age”. The scene of this world thus did not merit the coming of God, indeed “his own received him not” (Jn 1, 11). The fullness of time was thus a gift of grace: God filled our time with the abundance of his mercy, through pure love - through pure love! - he inaugurated the fullness of time.

It is striking, above all, how the coming of God into history was realised: he was “born of a woman”. There was no triumphal entrance, no imposing manifestation of the Almighty: He did not show himself as a dazzling sun but entered into the world in the simplest way, as a child from his mother, with that style which Scripture tells us about: like rain upon the earth (cf Is 55, 10), like the smallest of seeds which germinates and grows (cf Mk 4, 31-32). Thus, contrary to that which we would expect and perhaps would like, the Kingdom of God, now as then, “does not come in a way that attracts attention” (Lk 17, 20), but comes in littleness, in humility.

Today’s Gospel takes up this divine thread that delicately passes through history: from the fullness of time we pass to the “third day” of Jesus’ ministry (cf Jn 2, 1) and the announcement of the “hour” of salvation (cf v 4). Time shrinks, and the manifestation of God always happens in littleness. Thus “the beginning of the signs performed by Jesus” (v 11), happened in Cana of Galilee. There is no striking gesture accomplished before the crowd, nor even a speech that resolves a burning political question, like that of the subjection of the people to Roman domination. Instead, in a small village, a simple miracle happens, that brings joy to the wedding of a young and totally anonymous family. And yet, the water changed into wine at the wedding banquet is a great sign, because it reveals to us the spousal face of God, of a God who sits (down) at table with us, who dreams and accomplishes communion with us. It tells us that the Lord does not maintain a/keep his distance, but is close and concrete, He is in our midst and takes care of us, without deciding/making decisions in our place and without occupying himself with questions of power. He prefers in fact to let himself be contained in that which is little, conversely to man, who tends to want to possess something always greater. To be attracted by power, by size and by visibility, is tragically human, and it is a great temptation that seeks to insinuate itself everywhere; to give oneself to others, (by) eliminating distances, dwelling in littleness and concretely living daily life, this is exquisitely divine.

God saves us thus by making himself little, close and concrete. First of all, God makes himself little. The Lord, “meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11, 29), prefers the little ones, to whom is revealed the Kingdom of God (Mt 11, 25); they are great in his eyes and on them he turns his gaze (cf Is 66, 2). He favours them because they are opposed to the “pride of life” that comes from the world (cf 1 Jn 2, 16). The little ones speak his own language: the humble love that sets us free/brings freedom. Hence He calls simple and receptive people to be his mouthpiece, and to them He entrusts the revelation of his name and the secrets of his Heart. Let us think of so many sons and daughters of your own people: of the martyrs, who made the defenseless power of the Gospel shine forth; of the simple yet extraordinary people who knew how to witness to the Lord’s love in the midst of great trials; of the meek and powerful heralds of Mercy, like Saint John Paul II and Saint Faustina. Through these “channels” of his love, the Lord has sent priceless gifts to the whole Church and to all humanity. And it is significant that this anniversary of the Baptism of your people coincides
exactly with the Jubilee of Mercy.

Furthermore, God is close, his kingdom is close (cf Mk 1, 15): the Lord does not wish to be feared as a powerful and distant sovereign, he does not want to remain on a throne in heaven or in history books, but loves to come down into our events of every day, to walk with us. Thinking about the gift of a millennium so filled with faith, it is good before all else to thank God, who has walked with your people, taking them by the hand, as a father takes his child, and accompanying them in so many situations. This is what, also as a Church, we are called always to do: to listen, to get involved and makes ourselves close/become neighbours, sharing people's joys and struggles, so that the Gospel may spread every more coherently and bear more fruit: through positive irradiation, through transparency of life.

Finally, God is concrete. From today’s readings it emerges that everything, in the action of God, is concrete: divine Wisdom “works like a craftsman” and “plays” (cf Prov 8, 30), the Word becomes flesh, is born of a mother, is born under the law (cf Gal 4, 4), has friends and participates in a feast: the eternal is communicated by spending time with people and in concrete situations. Also your own history, kneaded by the Gospel, the Cross and fidelity to the Church, has seen the positive contagion of a genuine faith, passed down from family to family, from fathers to son, and above all from mothers and grandmothers, whom we need so much to thank. In particular, you have been able to touch with your hands the concrete and provident tenderness of the Mother of all, who I have come here
to venerate as a pilgrim and who we have greeted in the Psalm as the “honour of our people” (Jud 15, 9).

It is precisely to her that we, gathered here, look. In Mary, we find full correspondence to the Lord: to the divine thread is interwoven thus a "Marian thread" in history. If there is any human glory, any merit of our own in the fullness of time, it is she: she is that space, preserved free from bad/evil, in which God is reflected; she is the stairway that God took to come all the way down to us and make himself close and concrete; she is the clearest sign of the fullness of time.

In the life of Mary we admire this littleness loved by God, who “has looked upon the humility of his handmaiden”, and “has lifted up the humble” (Lk 1, 48, 52). He was so pleased with her that he let his flesh be woven from hers, so that the Virgin became the Parent (Genitrice) of God, as an ancient hymn proclaims, that for centuries you have sung. To you, who uninterruptedly come to her, hastening to this spiritual capital of the country, may she continue to show/indicate the way, and help you to weave, in life, the humble and simple fabric of the Gospel.

In Cana, as here in Jasna Góra, Mary offers us her closeness, and helps us to discover that which is lacking for the fullness of life. Now as then, she does this with the care/kindness of Mother, with her presence and good advice, teaching us to avoid decisiveness/hasty decisions and murmurings/grumbling in our communities. As Mother of the family, she wants to keep us together, all together. The pathway of your people has overcome, in unity, so many hard times; may the Mother, strong at the foot of the Cross and perserverent in prayer with the disciples in awaiting the Holy Spirit, instill the desire to go beyond the wrongs and wounds of the past, and to create communion with everyone, without ever yielding to the temptation to isolate oneself or to impose oneself.

Our Lady, at Cana, showed such concreteness: she is a Mother who takes to heart problems and intervenes, who can grasp difficult moments and provides for them with discretion, efficiency and determination. She is neither mistress nor protagonist, but Mother and handmaid. Let us ask for the grace to make our own her sensibility, her imagination in serving those in need, the beauty of spending one's life for others, without preferences or distinctions. May she, cause of our joy, who brings peace amid the abundance of sin and the turmoil of history, obtain for us the superabundance of the Holy Spirit, so as to be good and faithful servants.

Through her intercession, may the fullness of time come about also for us. The passage from before to after Christ means little if it remains a date in the annals of history. May an interior passage be accomplished, for each and every one, a Passover of the heart towards the divine style incarnated by Mary: to work in littleness and to accompany others closely, with a simple and open heart."