Pope Francis presides over Holy Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on the first day of the year, celebrating the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, and marking the 53rd World Day of Peace.
By Vatican News
Pope Francis’ first homily of the year was dedicated to the figure of Mary, on the day the Church celebrates her as Mother of God. Mary was declared Mother of God at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and it was Pope Saint Paul VI who restored this solemnity to January 1st in 1974.
“On the first day of the year”, began Pope Francis, we celebrate a “nuptial union between God and humanity”, one that was inaugurated “in the womb of a woman”. “The rebirth of humanity began from a woman”, continued the Pope: “Women are sources of life”.
That is why “every form of violence inflicted upon a woman is a blasphemy against God, who was born of a woman”, said Pope Francis. “How often are women’s bodies sacrificed on the profane altars of advertising, profiteering, and pornography, exploited like a canvas to be used”. “Women’s bodies must be freed from consumerism”, he said. “They must be respected and honoured”.
Pope Francis noted how the Gospel repeats the image of Mary “keeping all things in her heart”. “Women typically take life to heart”, said the Pope. “Women show us that the meaning of life is not found in making things but in taking things to heart. Only those who see with the heart see things properly, because they know how to ‘look into’ each person”.
At the start of this New Year, Pope Francis challenged us to ask if we know “how to see with the heart”. Only if we take life to heart, he said, “will we know how to take care and overcome the indifference all around”. “If we want a better world, a world that will be a peaceful home and not a war field, may we take to heart the dignity of each woman”.
The Church celebrates January 1st as the 53rdWorld Day of Peace, a tradition begun by Pope Saint Paul VI in 1968.
“Women are givers and mediators of peace”, said Pope Francis in his homily, adding that they should be “fully included in decision-making processes”. When women can share their gifts, said the Pope, “the world finds itself more united, more peaceful. Hence, every step forward for women is a step forward for humanity as a whole”.