Before the recitation of the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on Monday, Pope Francis devoted his address to the Virgin Mary on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. He said that this feast can be summed up in these words: everything is a grace, everything is a gift given freely by God, because of His love for us.
The Holy Father explained that the Angel Gabriel calls Mary “full of grace” because in her there is no room for sin. God, he said, had always chosen her to be the mother of Jesus, and had preserved her from original sin.
The Pope went on to say that Mary responds to this grace and abandons herself saying to the angel : “Let it be done to me according to your word”.
Pope Francis underlined that “we too are asked to listen to God speaking to us and to welcome his will.
He also noted that the attitude of Mary of Nazareth shows us that being comes before doing, and that we must leave it to God to truly be what He wants us to be.
Mary, said Pope Francis is receptive, but not passive. On a physical level, she receives the power of the Holy Spirit but then gives flesh and blood to the Son of God that is formed in her, so that, on a spiritual level, she welcomes the grace and corresponds to it with faith.
Speaking to the crowds present in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father stressed that as we have received for free, so we are called to give freely in imitation of Mary, who, immediately after welcoming the announcement from the Angel Gabriel, goes to share this gift with her cousin Elizabeth. Because, said the Pope, if everything is given to us, everything must be given back, this means, by letting the Holy Spirit make us a gift for others; that makes us become instruments of acceptance, reconciliation and forgiveness.
The Pope also stressed, in off the cuff remarks, that no one can buy salvation. Salvation is a gift given freely by God who comes to us and lives in us.
Following the recitation of the Marian Prayer, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that he would be going to Spanish Steps in the centre of Rome on Monday afternoon to renew the traditional act of homage and prayer at the foot of the monument to the Immaculate.