Dearest Brothers and Sisters,
Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, especially dear to Christian people. In Jesus'
Mother, the first fruit of redeemed humanity, God works wonderful
things, filling her with grace and preserving her from every stain of
At Nazareth, Mary was called "full of grace" by the Angel: in these
words were enclosed her singular destiny but also, in a more general
sense, that of every man. "Fullness of grace," which for Mary is the
starting point, is the goal for all men and women: in fact, as the
apostle Paul says, God has created us "to be holy and immaculate in his
presence" (Ephesians 1,4). Because of this, He "blessed" us before our
earthly existence, and sent His Son into the world to rescue us from
sin. Mary is the masterpiece of this salvific work, the "all beautiful,"
"all holy" creature.
2. The Immaculate reminds every human being, no matter what his
conditions, that God loves him personally, that He only wants his good
and follows him constantly with a plan of grace and mercy that
culminated in the redeeming sacrifice of Christ.
The reality of Mary points us toward Jesus Christ, sole Mediator of
salvation, and helps us to look at life as a design of love, with which
we must cooperate responsibly. Mary is the model, not only of the call
but also of the response. Indeed, she said "yes" to God, at the
beginning and in every successive moment of her life, completely
following His will, even when it was dark and difficult for her to
3. The feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary takes on special
meaning this year in view of the forthcoming Great Jubilee. Mary
illuminates the steps of our pilgrimage toward the Holy Door, and points
out that "Door," which is Christ and which she was the first to go
through, to every person, inviting everyone to go through, and to be
"holy and immaculate in love."
What we contemplate and celebrate in Mary today, in other words, her
being "full of grace" and free of sin, is the mature fruit of the
Jubilee. The icon of the Immaculate, which tradition depicts in the act
of crushing Satan -- the serpent's head, seems more eloquent than ever,
therefore, during this time of Advent, which is like the courtyard of
entry to the Great Jubilee.
Dearly beloved, let us turn to Mary, the sign of sure hope! The
Immaculate Virgin helps each of us to be converted to Jesus, to
experience the healing force of His love. This is the wish I have today
for all believers, inviting them to enter the Holy Year, which is
imminent, with determination.