Mary Opens the Door to Lent
EDITORIAL: The Father willed that Mary’s free choice would bring the Messiah into the world. And he wills that each of his sons and daughters use this same freedom to receive the gift of his merciful love and turn back to him with every fiber of their being.
“God created us without us: But he did not will to save us without us,” writes St. Augustine in his Sermon 169.
The depth and breadth of that mysterious truth has inspired saints and sinners to celebrate the Father’s faithful, merciful love for his adopted sons and daughters. But the stubborn pattern of sin that ambushes our hopes for change often leaves us at a familiar crossroads, with the same old question: Do we have the strength to begin again and turn back to our Father?
In his message for Lent 2016, Pope Francis, who first discerned his priestly vocation while in the confessional, offers a path to conversion under the mantle of Mary, Mother of the Church and of Mercy. The “virginal womb,” which once carried the Son of God, still gives protection and inspiration to the downhearted and downtrodden, the Pope assures us.
We know, however, the way of Mary is not for the complacent. At the Annunciation, she agrees to take part in a divine mission that will likely bring scandal and danger. Yet her passionate fiat — “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” — reveals a great eagerness to share the Good News of the Father’s mercy with his people.
Her words and example, says the Holy Father, remind us that each believer is called to proclaim the Gospel. In our journeys to the Lord, we must emulate her generosity of spirit that desires to leave no one behind.
Mary’s story begins in the Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis. There, the sin of Adam is met with exile, but also with the promise of a Messiah who will free his people. Throughout Scripture, this pledge endures, even as Jerusalem repudiates her God and betrays his law.
“Here is a true love story, in which God plays the role of the betrayed father and husband, while Israel plays the unfaithful child and bride. These domestic images — as in the case of Hosea (Hosea 1-2) — show to what extent God wishes to bind himself to his people,” said Pope Francis.
In the New Testament, the pattern of infidelity is disrupted. Mary, conceived without sin, receives her divine Son in her womb: “Be it done unto me according to thy word.”
Her response to the Archangel Gabriel marks a new beginning, as the Incarnation is received into her womb and into the world, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
Source: National Catholic Register: ARCHIVES – OPINION | FEB. 13, 2016