Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Mystery of the All-Powerful God Needing and Being Dependent on Man

Catechesis of Pope Benedict XVI
General Audience, August 12, 2009

Dear brothers and sisters,

The celebration of the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin on Saturday is imminent, and we are in the midst of the year for Priests. Thus, I would like to speak on the nexus between Our Lady and the priesthood.

It is a bond that is profoundly rooted in the mystery of the Incarnation. When God decided to become man in His Son, He needed the free "Yes" of one of His human creatures.

God never acts against our freedom. So something truly extraordinary happened: God became dependent on the freedom to say "Yes" by one of His creatures: He was waiting on this "Yes."

St. Bernard Clairvaux, in one of his homilies, explained dramatically this decisive moment in universal history, when heaven, earth and God awaited what this creature would say. Mary's "Yes" therefore was the door through which God could enter the world and become man. Thus, Mary is really and profoundly involved in the mystery of the Incarnation, of our salvation.

And the Incarnation, the Son becoming man, was from the beginning aimed at His self-giving - giving Himself with much love on the Cross, to become bread for the life of the world. Thus, sacrifice, priesthood and the Incarnation go together, and Mary is at the center of this mystery.

Let us go to the Cross.

Jesus, before dying, saw His Mother at the foot of the Cross, and He saw a beloved son. This beloved son was certainly a very important individual, but so much more: he was an example, a prefiguration of all beloved disciples, of all persons called by the Lord to be His "beloved disciple," and consequently, in a special way, of all priests. Jesus says to Mary: "Mother, behold your son" (Jn 19,26). It was a kind of testament: He entrusts His mother to the care of the son, the disciple.

But He also tells the disciple: "Behold your Mother" (Jn 19,27). The Gospel tells us that from this moment, St. John, the beloved disciple, took Mary "into his own home." Thus it is in the Italian translation.

But the Greek text is much more profound, much richer. And we can translate it as: He took Mary into the intimacy of his life, of his being, into the profundity of his being. To take in Mary meant to introduce her into the dynamism of his entire existence - not as an external thing - and into everything that constituted the horizon of his own apostolate.

I think it is therefore understandable how the special relationship of motherhood between Mary and priests constitutes the primary source, the fundamental reason for the favor that she reserves for each priest. Mary favors them for two reasons: because they are most like Jesus, the supreme love of her heart, and because they, like she, are committed to the mission of proclaiming, witnessing and giving Christ to the world. For his own identification with and sacramental conformation to Jesus, Son of God and son of Mary, every priest can and should feel himself to be a truly beloved child of this most elevated and humblest of mothers.

The Second Vatican Council invites priests to look at Mary as the perfect model for their own existence, invoking her as "Mother of the Supreme and Eternal Priest, Queen of the Apostles, Help of all Priests in their ministry." Priests, the Council says, "should therefore venerate and love her with devotion and filial worship" (cf. Presbyterorum ordinis, 18).

The Holy Cure of Ars, whom we particularly commemorate this year, loved to say: "Jesus Christ, after having given us everything that He could possibly give, also wanted us to be heirs to what He held most precious, that is to say, His own Holy Mother" (B. Nodet, Il pensiero e l’anima del Curato d’Ars, Torino 1967, p. 305). This is true for every Christian, for all of us, but especially so, for priests.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray that Mary may make all priests, in the face of all the problems of the world today, conform to the image of her son Jesus as dispensers of the inestimable treasure of His love as the Good Shepherd.

Mary, Mother of Priests, pray for us!

No comments: