Vatican City, 7 January 2014 (VIS) – “The first day of the year is the feast day of the Mother of God, followed by the Epiphany, which recalls the visit of the Magi. The evangelist Matthew writes, ‘And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him’. It was the Mother who, after having generated Him, who presents the Son to the world. She gives us Jesus, she shows Jesus to us”. With these words Pope Francis began the first catechesis of the Wednesday morning general audiences of 2015, which he dedicated to the figure of the mother, both in the family and in the Christian community.
“Every human being owes his or her life to a mother, and almost always owes much of his or her subsequent existence, human and spiritual formation, to her”, affirmed the Pope. “However, although the mother is highly exalted from a symbolic point of view, she is listened to and helped very little in daily life, and her central role in society is not given much consideration. On the contrary, often the willingness of mothers to sacrifice themselves for their children is exploited in order to save on social expenditure”.
Even in the Christian community, the mother is not always given due consideration. “Yet at the centre of the life of the Church there is the Mother of Jesus. … It is necessary to better understand their daily struggle to be efficient at work and attentive and affectionate at home; we must better understand what they aspire to in order to express the best and most authentic results of their emancipation”.
Mothers are “the strongest antidote to individualism. … They are those who most hate war, which kills their children. They bear witness to the beauty of life. Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero said that mothers live a ‘maternal martyrdom’. In his homily at the funeral of a priest killed by death squads, he said, echoing Vatican Council II, ‘We must all be willing to die for our faith, even if the Lord does not grant us this honour… Giving life does not only mean being killed; giving life, having the spirit of martyrdom, is giving in duty, in silence, in prayer, in the honest fulfilment of one’s duty; in that silence of everyday life, giving life a little at a time. Yes, as it is given by a mother, who without fear, with the simplicity of maternal martyrdom, conceives a child in her womb, gives him life, nurses him, nurtures him and cares for him with affection. It is giving life. It is martyrdom’. Yes, being a mother does not mean merely bringing a child into the world, but it is also a choice of life, the decision to give life”.
“A society without mothers would be an inhuman society, as mothers always know how to show tenderness, devotion and moral strength, even in the moments of greatest difficulty. Mothers often also transmit the deepest sense of religious practice. … It is a message that mothers who believe know how to transmit without much explanation; this arrives later, but the seed of faith is planted in those first precious moments. Without mothers … faith would lose a good part of its simple, profound warmth”.
“And the Church is a mother”, exclaimed the Pope. “We are not orphans; we are children, we have a mother – the Virgin, the mother Church and our mother. We are not orphans, we are children of the Church, we are the children of Mary and of our mother. Thank you, dear mothers, for what you are in the family and for what you give to the Church and to the world. And to you, our beloved Church, thank you for being a mother. And to you, Mary, mother of God, thank you for presenting us to Jesus”.
Following the catechesis, the Holy Father greeted, among others, a delegation of French imams engaged in dialogue between Islam and Christianity, and a group of Polish survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp, freed seventy years ago.