On the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Francis told the crowds assembled in St. Peter's Square on Sunday for his weekly Sunday Angelus that Mary's entire existence represents a 'yes' to God. “The Virgin Mary is not far from this love of God; all of her life, all of her being is a ‘yes’ to God,” Pope Francis told the assembled throng. “Let us look at her, and let us look to her,” declared the Pope, “in order to be more humble, and even more courageous in following the Word of God, to receive the tender embrace of her son Jesus, an embrace that gives us life, hope, and peace.”
"Mary’s ‘yes’ to God was certainly not easy for her! When the angel called her ‘full of grace’ she remained ‘troubled,’ because in her humility she felt unworthy before God. Mary listens, obeying interiorly and responds, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.'”
Mary's example, Francis pointed out, serves as an example for every Christian. “With great joy the Church contemplates Mary as ‘full of grace,'" Francis said, calling on the crowd to repeat the words 'full of grace."
Just as Mary was chosen by God to be the Mother of the Redeemer, “we too are chosen by God to live a life of holiness, free from sin. It is a project of love that God renews every time we come close to him, especially in the sacraments,” Francis taught. “Mary sustains us in our journey towards Christmas, because she teaches us to live this time of Advent in waiting for the Lord.”
“The Gospel of Luke presents us with a young girl from Nazareth, a little place in Galilee, on the periphery of the Roman Empire and also on the periphery of Israel. Yet upon her was the gaze of the Lord, who chose her to be the mother of His Son. The mystery of this young girl from Nazareth, which is in the heart of God, is not irrelevant to us,” Pope Francis said. “In fact, God places his gaze of love on every man and every woman.”
“On this feast day, then, contemplating our Immaculate Mother, we also recognize our true destiny, our deepest vocation: to be loved, to be transformed by love.”
In the United States of America, where the feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the national patronal feast, the Holy Day is transferred to today, December 9th, since the normal feast fell on a Sunday this year. Unlike most years, because of the day the feast falls on (a Monday following a Sunday) it will not be observed as a Holy Day of Obligation this year.