Pope's Homily at Mass at Altoetting
"Mary Leaves Everything to the Lord's Judgment"
ALTOETTING, Germany, SEPT. 12, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave at the Celebration of the Eucharist Monday at the Kapellplatz Altoetting.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
In today's First Reading, Responsorial Psalm and Gospel, three times and in three different ways, we see Mary, the Mother of the Lord, as a woman of prayer. In the Book of Acts we find her in the midst of the community of the apostles gathered in the Upper Room, praying that the Lord, now ascended to the Father, will fulfill his promise: Within a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (1:5).
Mary leads the nascent Church in prayer; she is, as it were in person, the Church at prayer. And thus, along with the great community of the saints and at their center, she stands even today before God interceding for us, asking her Son to send his Spirit once more upon the Church and to renew the face of the earth.
Our response to this reading is to sing with Mary the great hymn of praise which she raises after Elizabeth calls her blessed because of her faith. It is a prayer of thanksgiving, of joy in God, of blessing for his mighty works. The tenor of this hymn is clear from its very first words: My soul magnifies -- makes great -- the Lord. Making the Lord great means giving him a place in the world, in our lives, and letting him enter into our time and our activity: Ultimately this is the essence of true prayer. Where God is made great, men and women are not made small: There too men and women become great and the world is filled with light.
In the Gospel passage, Mary makes a request of her Son on behalf of some friends in need. At first sight, this could appear to be an entirely human conversation between a Mother and her Son and it is indeed a dialogue rich in humanity. Yet Mary does not speak to Jesus as if he were a mere man on whose ability and helpfulness she can count. She entrusts a human need to his power -- to a power which is more than skill and human ability.
In this dialogue with Jesus, we actually see her as a Mother who asks, one who intercedes. As we listen to this Gospel passage, it is worth going a little deeper, not only to understand Jesus and Mary better, but also to learn from Mary the right way to pray. Mary does not really ask something of Jesus: She simply says to him: They have no wine (John 2:3).
Weddings in the Holy Land were celebrated for a whole week; the entire town took part, and consequently much wine was consumed. Now the wedding couple find themselves in trouble, and Mary simply says this to Jesus. She doesn't tell Jesus what to do. She doesn't ask for anything in particular, and she certainly doesn't ask him to perform a miracle to make wine. She simply hands the matter over to Jesus and leaves him to decide what to do.
In the straightforward words of the Mother of Jesus, then, we can see two things: on the one hand her affectionate concern for people, that maternal affection which makes her aware of the problems of others. We see her heartfelt goodness and her willingness to help. This is the Mother that generations of people have come here to Altoetting to visit. To her we entrust our cares, our needs and our troubles. Her maternal readiness to help, in which we trust, appears here for the first time in the holy Scriptures.
But in addition to this first aspect, with which we are all familiar, there is another, which we could easily overlook: Mary leaves everything to the Lord's judgment. At Nazareth she gave over her will, immersing it in the will of God: Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word (Luke 1:38). And this continues to be her fundamental attitude.
This is how she teaches us to pray: not by seeking to affirm our own will and our own desires before God, but by letting him decide what he wants to do. From Mary we learn graciousness and readiness to help, but we also learn humility and generosity in accepting God's will, in the confident conviction that whatever he says in response will be best for us.
If all this helps us to understand Mary's attitude and her words, we still find it hard to understand Jesus' answer. In the first place, we don't like the way he addresses her: Woman. Why doesn't he say: Mother? But this title really expresses Mary's place in salvation history. It points to the future, to the hour of the crucifixion, when Jesus will say to her: Woman, behold your son -- Son, behold your mother (cf. John 19:26-27). It anticipates the hour when he will make the woman, his Mother, the Mother of all his disciples.
On the other hand, the title Woman recalls the account of the creation of Eve: Adam, surrounded by creation in all its magnificence, experiences loneliness as a human being. Then Eve ...
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