In the 14th talk of a catechetical series on the Jubilee, the Holy Father concentrated on the role of the Virgin Mary in the celebration. "We cannot separate the Son from the Mother," he said, "having been born of Mary is part of the personal identity of Jesus."
He added that from the earliest years of the Church, the profession of faith recognized Jesus as "Son of God and Son of Mary." And the Council of Ephesus, in 431, solemnly proclaimed that Mary is the Mother of God-- a title which, the Pope pointed out, is "the loftiest title one can give to any human person."
Mary's maternity, the Holy Father continued, reflects the will of God, that his Son should be born in a truly human fashion. At the same time, he continued, God "wished a virginal mother, as a sign of the child's divine filiation."
Moreover, John Paul emphasized, it was also the will of God that this birth could occur only with the consent of Mary, who retained the freedom to refuse. "In effect," he said, "the angel set out the divine project and waited for a response, which came from her free will." Thus the mystery of the Incarnation occurs through the consent of the Virgin. And, the Pope said, "That adherence of Mary to the divine will had an immense effect on the future of all humanity."
Finally, John Paul taught that the union of Mary with Christ in his suffering on the Cross "produced in Mary a new maternity"-- a "universal" maternity. "She who suffered for all humanity became mother of all men," he concluded.
Later in the day Pope John Paul II told a group of seminarians from the city of Florence that they had no reason to fear if they let the Holy Spirit be their guide.
The Holy Father received Cardinal Silvano Piovanelli and the seminarians from his Italian archdiocese in a private audience, and alluded to the worldwide day of prayer for vocations which will be observed on May-- a date on which he will ordain 30 deacons to the priesthood for Rome.
"Do not be afraid, dear seminarians, to open you sails to capture the breath of the Holy Spirit," the Pope said. "Let the force of truth and love enliven every dimension of your young lives." He urged the young men to devote "you entire being" to the work of the priesthood, which means "being a sign and instrument of Christ."
The Florence seminary-- where the Holy Father made a pastoral visit in 1986-- trains priests not only for that city, but also for work in Poland and in Kerala, India.