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Pope's Homily at Mass With New Cardinals

3/27/2006 - 6:30 AM PST

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"You Are Intimately United with Christ"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave during the Mass he concelebrated on Saturday with the 15 new cardinals, in which they received their rings.

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Dear Cardinals and Patriarchs,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

For me it is a source of great joy to preside at this concelebration with the new cardinals after yesterday's consistory, and I consider it providential that it should take place on the liturgical solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. In the incarnation of the Son of God, in fact, we recognize the origins of the Church. Everything began from there. Every historical realization of the Church and every one of her institutions must be shaped by that primordial wellspring.

They must be shaped by Christ, the incarnate word of God. It is he that we are constantly celebrating: Emmanuel, God-with-us, through whom the saving will of God the Father has been accomplished. And yet -- today of all days we contemplate this aspect of the mystery -- the divine wellspring flows through a privileged channel: the Virgin Mary. St. Bernard speaks of this using the eloquent image of "aquaeductus" (cf. "Sermo in Nativitate B.V. Mariae": PL 183, 437-448). In celebrating the incarnation of the Son, therefore, we cannot fail to honor his mother.

The angel's proclamation was addressed to her; she accepted it, and when she responded from the depths of her heart: "Here I am ... let it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38), the eternal Word began to exist as a human being in time.

From generation to generation, the wonder evoked by this ineffable mystery never ceases. St. Augustine imagines a dialogue between himself and the angel of the Annunciation, in which he asks: "Tell me, O Angel, why did this happen in Mary?" The answer, says the messenger, is contained in the very words of the greeting: "Hail, full of grace" (cf. "Sermo" 291:6). In fact, the angel, "appearing to her," does not call her by her earthly name, Mary, but by her divine name, as she has always been seen and characterized by God: "Full of grace -- 'gratia plena,'" which in the original Greek is "beloved" (cf. Luke 1:28). Origen observes that no such title had ever been given to a human being, and that it is unparalleled in all of sacred Scripture (cf. "In Lucam" 6:7).

It is a title expressed in passive form, but this "passivity" of Mary, who has always been and is for ever "loved" by the Lord, implies her free consent, her personal and original response: In being loved, Mary is fully active, because she accepts with personal generosity the wave of God's love poured out upon her. In this too, she is the perfect disciple of her Son, who realizes the fullness of his freedom through obedience to the Father.

In the second reading, we heard the wonderful passage in which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews interprets Psalm 39 in the light of Christ's incarnation: "When Christ came into the world, he said: ... 'Here I am, I have come to do your will, O God'" (Hebrews 10:5-7). Before the mystery of these two "Here I am" statements from Christ and from the Virgin, each of which is reflected in the other, forming a single Amen to God's loving will, we are filled with wonder and thanksgiving, and we bow down in adoration.

What a great gift, dear brothers, to be able to conduct this evocative celebration on the solemnity of the Lord's Annunciation! What an abundance of light we can draw from this mystery for our lives as ministers of the Church! You above all, dear new cardinals, what great sustenance you can receive for your mission as the eminent "Senate" of Peter's Successor! This providential circumstance helps us to consider today's event, which emphasizes the Petrine principle of the Church, in the light of the other principle, the Marian one, which is even more fundamental. The importance of the Marian principle in the Church was particularly highlighted, after the council, by my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II, in harmony with his motto "Totus tuus."

In his spirituality and in his tireless ministry, the presence of Mary as Mother and Queen of the Church was made manifest to the eyes of all. More than ever he adverted to her maternal presence in the assassination attempt of May 13, 1981, in St. Peter's Square. In memory of that tragic event, he had a mosaic of the Virgin placed high up in the Apostolic Palace, looking down over St. Peter's Square, so as to accompany the key moments and the daily unfolding of his long reign. It is just one year since his pontificate entered its final phase, full of suffering and yet triumphant and truly paschal. The icon of the Annunciation, more than any other, helps us to see clearly how everything in the ...

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