The miseries of the world are powerless against the mercy of God, whose entrance into history brought about a new era for humanity, Pope Francis said at the opening Mass of the new year.
“History does not determine the birth of Christ; rather, his coming into the world enables history to attain its fullness,” the Pope said in his homily Friday morning in Saint Peter’s Basilica.
“For this reason, the birth of the Son of God inaugurates a new era, a new computation of time, the era which witnesses the fulfilment of the ancient promise.”
Pope Francis delivered these remarks during Mass for the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which is celebrated each year on Jan. 1.
In his homily, the Pope centered his reflection on the day’s second reading from Saint Paul to the Galatians which speaks of God having been “born of a woman” in the “fullness of time.”
“The grace of Christ, which brings our hope of salvation to fulfilment, leads us to cooperate with him in building an ever more just and fraternal world, a world in which every person and every creature can dwell in peace, in the harmony of God’s original creation.”
Following the Mass, Pope Francis delivered his Angelus address to pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Square, in which he reflected on the need to sustain real hope amid the “many problems of yesterday” which will still be present in the new year.
God is patient with us, and does not tire of helping us begin again each time we fall, the pontiff said.
However, God “does not use a magic wand” to change us, he observed. Rather, he seeks to bring about change “from within, with patience and love.”
“He asks to enter into our lives gently, like rain in the earth, to bear fruit. And he is always there waiting and watching us with tenderness.”
Pope Francis recalled how Jan. 1 is also the World Day of Peace, which this year has the theme: “Overcome indifference and win peace.” He explained how we are not only called to cultivate peace, but to “conquer” it.
“This involves a real struggle, a spiritual battle that takes place in our hearts,” the Pope said. “The enemy of peace is not only war, but also indifference, which makes us think only of ourselves and creates barriers, suspicions, fears, and closures.”
The pontiff thanked God for the large amount of information available, but nonetheless noted how it can distract us from the needs of others.
Instead, he said we need to begin opening “our hearts, awakening attention to the next, to those who are closest. This is the way to win the peace.”
Before leading the recitation of the Angelus prayer, the Pope called the faithful to entrust the new year to Mary, “in order that peace and mercy may grow.”
After the Angelus, Pope Francis greeted the members of the various movements who were present.