January 10, 2000
volume 11, no. 6

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    Today, we bring you the words from His Holiness Pope John Paul II for his Weekly General Papal Audience of 2000 at Paul VI Hall where 7,000 packed the spacious auditorium to hear the Holy Father talk about Mary's role in Redemption. In concentrating his talk on Mary, "beloved daughter of the Father," the Pontiff explained that the first word of the angel's greeting to Mary is a call to joy: Rejoice! "With this first word addressed to Mary, the Father reveals his intention to communicate real and lasting joy to humanity." The Pope explained that, "The infinite tenderness of God, Who is Love, is revealed in the maternal traits of the Mother of Jesus. Mary is the only mother who can say, speaking of Jesus, 'my Son.' Jesus calls the Father 'Abba,' 'Daddy,' while He addresses Mary as 'Mommy,' placing in that name all His filial affection." He concluded by indicating that Mary's role is being fulfilled today by helping "the Church to walk as she did in Christ's footsteps." The full English text was translated and provided by ZENIT news agency, article ZE00060120.

Mary, the woman who called Jesus "my Son"
    Today I am pleased to begin the first General Audience of the year 2000, just a few days after the inauguration of the Great Jubilee, by offering all those present my most cordial wishes for the Jubilee Year: may it really be a "solid time" of grace, reconciliation and interior renewal.

    Over the past year, the last dedicated to the immediate preparation for the Jubilee, we reflected together in greater depth on the mystery of the Father. Today, by way of conclusion of that cycle of reflections and as a special introduction to the Catechesis of the Holy Year, we will take time to lovingly ponder the person of Mary.

    In her, the "beloved daughter of the Father" (Lumen Gentium, 53), the divine plan of love for humanity was manifested. Given her destiny to become the mother of his Son, the Father chose her from among all creatures and raised her to the highest dignity and mission in the service of his people.

    This plan of the Father began to manifest itself in the "Proto-Gospel" when, following the fall of Adam and Eve, God announced that he would put enmity between the serpent and the woman: it would be the woman's son who would crush the serpent's head (Cf. Gen 3,15).

    The promise begins to be fulfilled at the Annunciation, when Mary is given the proposal to become the Mother of the Savior.

2. "Rejoice, full of grace" (Lk 1,28). The first word the Father speaks to Mary through his angel is a formula of greeting that can be understood as an invitation to joy, an invitation re-echoing that directed to the entire people of Israel by the prophet Zachariah: "Greatly exult daughter of Sion! Behold, your King is coming to you" (Zach. 9,9; Cf. also Sof 3, 14-18). With this first word addressed to Mary, the Father reveals his intention to communicate real and lasting joy to humanity. The very joy of the Father, which consists in having the Son near him, is offered to all, but first of all it is entrusted to Mary so that from her it will be shed on the human community.

3. The invitation to joy is linked by Mary to the special gift she received from the Father: "kecharitomene." Not without reason, the Greek expression is often translated as "full of grace": it is, indeed, an abundance that reaches the highest degree. We should note that the expression sounds as though it is Mary's own name, the "name" given to her by the Father from the beginning of her existence. Up to the conception, in fact, her soul was filled with all blessings, enabling her to follow a road of eminent sanctity throughout her earthly existence. In Mary's face we perceive the reflection of the mysterious face of the Father. The infinite tenderness of God, who is Love, is revealed in the maternal features of Jesus' Mother.

4. When speaking of Jesus, Mary is the only mother who can say "my son," as the Father says it: "You are my Son" (Mk 1,11). For his part, Jesus calls the Father "Abba," "Daddy" (Cf. Mk 14,36), while he calls Mary "mommy," placing all his filial affection in this name.

    After he leaves his mother in Nazareth, during his public life when he meets her he calls her "woman," to emphasize that henceforth he takes orders only from the Father, but also to declare that she is not simply a biological mother, but, rather, has a mission to fulfill as "Daughter of Sion" and mother of the people of the New Covenant. As such, Mary always remains oriented to full adherence to the will of the Father.

    This was not the case with all of Jesus' family. The fourth Gospel reveals that his relatives "did not believe in him" (Jn 7,5) and Mark mentions that "they went out to seize him; for they said, 'He is beside himself.' " (Mk 3,21). One can be sure that Mary's interior dispositions were completely different. This is confirmed in Luke's Gospel, in which Mary presents herself as the humble "handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1,38). In this light we read the response given by Jesus when "he was told: 'Your mother and your brethren are standing outside, desiring to see you.' (Lk 8,20; Cf. Mt 12,46-47; Mk 3, 32); Jesus replied: "My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it" (Lk 8,21). Indeed, Mary is a model of hearing the Word of God (Cf. Lk 2, 19.51) and of docility to it.

5. The Virgin preserved and renewed with perseverance her total disposition expressed at the Annunciation. The immense privilege and lofty mission of being Mother of the Son of God did not change her humble behavior, submissive to the Father's plan. Among the other aspects of this divine plan, she assumed the educational endeavor implied in her maternity. The mother is not simply the one who gives birth but also the one who actively undertakes the formation and development of the son's personality. Mary's behavior undoubtedly had an influence on Jesus' conduct. One can assume, for example, that the act of the washing the feet (Cf. Jn 13, 4-5), which was left to the disciples as a model to imitate (Cf. Jn 13, 14-15), reflects that which Jesus himself had observed in Mary's behavior during his childhood, when, in a spirit of humble service, she washed her guests' feet.

    According to Gospel testimony, during the period Jesus spent in Nazareth he was "subject" to Mary and Joseph (Cf. Lk 2,51). He thus received from Mary a real education that marked his humanity. On the other hand, Mary let herself be influenced and formed by her son. In the progressive manifestation of Jesus, she discovered the Father more profoundly and gave him the homage of all the love of her daughterly heart. Now her task is to help the Church to walk as she did in Christ's footsteps.


January 10, 2000
volume 10, no. 6

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