8-December-2012 -- Vatican Information Service |

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The Power Of Grace Is Stronger Than Evil

Vatican City, 8 December 2012 (VIS) - At 3.45 p.m., on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI made his way to Piazza di Spagna in Rome for the traditional act of veneration of the image of the Virgin Mary on the column situated in front of the Embassy of Spain to the Holy See.

During his journey, the Holy Father stopped briefly at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, where he greeted the members of the Via Condotti Storeowners Association. Once in the square, the Pope began by offering a prayer, followed by a reading from the Apocalypse of St. John, a homily and the offering of a floral tribute to the image of the Virgin. In his address, the Pope reflected on the Gospel of this solemnity, the Gospel of the Annunciation.

Benedict XVI began by explaining that the encounter between the angel and Mary, the decisive moment in which God became Man, "was enveloped in a great silence. ... That which is truly great often goes unnoticed and calm silence is more fruitful than the frenzy that characterises our cities, and which, in due proportion, was also present in the important cities of those times, such as Jerusalem. All this action prevents us from pausing, allowing ourselves to be calm and listening to the silence in which the Lord makes his discreet voice heard."

On the day of the Annunciation, Mary was "deep in thought and yet ready to listen to God. There was no obstacle within her, no barrier, nothing that would separate her from God. This is the meaning of her being without original sin. Her relationship with God is free from even the slightest rift; there is no separation, no shadow of selfishness, but rather perfect harmony. Her little human heart was perfectly 'centred' in the great heart of God. ... Coming here, before this monument to Mary, in the centre of Rome, reminds us first that the voice of God is not recognised amid noise and turmoil; his plan for our life as individuals and as a society are not visible on the surface; we need to descend to a deeper level where the forces at work are not economic or political but moral and spiritual. It is at this deeper level that Mary invites us to enter into harmony with God's action."

Secondly, Mary Immaculate teaches us that "the salvation of the world is not the work of man - of science, technology or ideology - but of Grace. ... Grace means love in its purity and beauty. It is God Himself as revealed in the salvific narrative of the Bible and fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Mary is called the 'favoured one' and this identity recalls to us God's primacy in our life and in the history of the world. She reminds us that the power of God's love is stronger than evil, and that it fills the void that selfishness creates in the history of people, families, nations and the world. Such emptiness can become a form of hell, where human life is dragged to its lowest depths and towards emptiness, losing meaning and light. The false remedies the world offers to fill the void ... in fact widen the abyss. Only love can save us from falling, but not merely any love. It must have the purity of Grace, which God transforms and renews to fill intoxicated lungs with fresh, clean air and new vital energy. Mary tells us that, however far a man may fall, he never falls beyond the reach of God, who has descended even into hell. However far astray our heart may be led, God is always 'greater than our heart'. The soft breath of Grace can disperse the darkest clouds, and make life beautiful and rich in meaning even in the most inhumane situations."

Finally, Mary Immaculate speaks to us of joy, "the true joy that emanates from a heart freed from sin. Sin carries a negative sadness that induces us to close up. Grace brings true joy, which does not depend on possessing things, but is rooted in the innermost, deepest part of the self, and which nothing and no one can take away. Even though some believe that Christianity is an obstacle to joy because they see it as an ensemble of prohibitions and rules, it is essentially a 'Gospel', a 'good tiding'. In fact, Christianity is the proclamation of the victory of Grace over sin, of life over death. Even if it entails sacrifice and a discipline of the mind, heart and behaviour, it is because in man we find the poisonous root of selfishness that causes harm to the self and to others. We must therefore learn to say 'no' to the voice of selfishness and 'yes' to that of real love. Mary's joy is complete because in her heart sin casts no shadow. This joy coincides with the presence of Jesus in her life".

"In this time of Advent", the Pope concluded, "Mary Immaculate teaches us to listen to the voice of God that speaks to us in silence; to welcome His Grace that frees us from sin and selfishness, so that we may experience true joy".

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