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Papal Homily at Marian House in Ephesus

11/30/2006 - 5:35 AM PST

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"Christ Is Grace; Christ Is Peace"

EPHESUS, Turkey, NOV. 30, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is the homily Benedict XVI delivered today during the Mass celebrated in front of the Meryem Ana Evi (the House of Mother Mary) shrine near Ephesus.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this Eucharistic celebration we praise the Lord for Mary's divine motherhood, a mystery solemnly confessed and proclaimed in Ephesus at the Ecumenical Council of 431. To this place, so dear to the Christian community, my venerable predecessors the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II came as pilgrims; the latter visited this Shrine on 30 November 1979, just over a year after the beginning of his Pontificate. Another of my Predecessors was in this country not as Pope, but as the Papal Representative, from January 1935 to December 1944, Blessed John XXIII, Angelo Roncalli, whose memory still enkindles great devotion and affection. He very much esteemed and admired the Turkish people. Here I would like to quote an entry in his Journal of a Soul: "I love the Turks; I appreciate the natural qualities of these people who have their own place reserved in the march of civilization" (pp. 233-4). He also left to the Church and the world the legacy of his Christian optimism, rooted in deep faith and constant union with God. In that same spirit, I turn to this nation and, in a special way, to the "little flock" of Christ living in its midst, in order to offer a word of encouragement and to manifest the affection of the whole Church. With great love I greet all of you here present, the faithful of Izmir, Mersin, Iskenderun and Antakia, and others from different parts of the world, as well as those who could not take part in this celebration but are spiritually united with us. I greet in particular Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini of Izmir, Archbishop Giuseppe Bernardini, Archbishop emeritus of Izmir, Bishop Luigi Padovese, the priests and the religious. Thank you for your presence, your witness and your service to the Church in this blessed land where, at its very beginnings, the Christian community experienced great growth, a fact reflected in the numerous pilgrimages made to Turkey to this day.

Mother of God -- Mother of the Church

We have listened to a passage from Saint John's Gospel which invites us to contemplate the moment of the Redemption when Mary, united to her Son in the offering of his sacrifice, extended her motherhood to all men and women, and in particular to the disciples of Jesus. A privileged witness to that event was the author of the Fourth Gospel, John, the only one of the Apostles to remain at Golgotha with the Mother of Jesus and the other women. Mary's motherhood, which began with her fiat in Nazareth, is fulfilled at the foot of the Cross. Although it is true -- as Saint Anselm says -- that "from the moment of her fiat Mary began to carry all of us in her womb", the maternal vocation and mission of the Virgin towards those who believe in Christ actually began when Jesus said to her: "Woman, behold your son!" (Jn 19:26). Looking down from the Cross at his Mother and the beloved disciple by her side, the dying Christ recognized the first fruits of the family which he had come to form in the world, the beginning of the Church and the new humanity. For this reason, he addressed Mary as "Woman", not as "Mother", the term which he was to use in entrusting her to his disciple: "Behold your Mother!" (Jn 19:27). The Son of God thus fulfilled his mission: born of the Virgin in order to share our human condition in everything but sin, at his return to the Father he left behind in the world the sacrament of the unity of the human race (cf. "Lumen Gentium," 1): the family "brought into unity from the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Saint Cyprian, "De Orat. Dom.," 23: PL 4, 536), at whose heart is this new bond between the Mother and the disciple. Mary's divine motherhood and her ecclesial motherhood are thus inseparably united.

Mother of God -- Mother of Unity

The first reading presented what could be called the "Gospel" of the Apostle of the Gentiles: all men and women, including the pagans, are called in Christ to share fully in the mystery of salvation. The text also contains the expression that I have chosen as the motto for my Apostolic Journey: "He, Christ, is our peace" (Eph 2:14). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us that Jesus Christ has not only brought us peace, but that he is our peace. And he justifies this statement by referring to the mystery of the Cross: by shedding "his blood", by offering in sacrifice "his flesh", Jesus destroyed hostility "in himself" and created "in himself one new man in place of the two" (Eph 2:14-16). The Apostle explains how, in a truly unforeseen way, messianic peace has now come about in Christ's own person and his saving mystery. He explains it by writing, during his ...

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