What is a cure for selfishness




St. Peter's Square
Saturday 8 December 2018



Dear brothers and sisters,
good afternoon and a merry Christmas!

Today's Word of God gives us an alternative. The first reading is about the people at the beginning No says to God, and in the Gospel there is Mary who preaches Yes says to God: in both readings God seeks people. In the first case, however, he goes to Adam after the fall and asks him: "Where are you?" (gene 3: 9), and he replies: "I hid myself" (v. 10). In the second case, on the other hand, he goes to Mary, who is sinless, and answers him: "See, I am the Lord's handmaid" (Lk 1.38). "See, here I am" is the opposite of "I was hiding". The "Here I am" opens to God, while sin closes, isolates, and allows you to be left alone.

"Here I am" is the key word in life. It marks the transition from a horizontal life that is centered on oneself and one's needs to a vertical life that is designed with God in mind. »Here I am«Means to be at the disposal of the Lord, it is the remedy against selfishness, it is the antidote to an unsatisfied life that is always lacking something. "Here I am" is the remedy against aging through sin, it is therapy to stay young. "Here I am" means to believe that God matters more than me. It means choosing, betting on the Lord, docile to his surprises. Telling him, "Here I am" is the greatest praise we can offer him. Why don't we start the days this way, with a "See, here I am, Lord"? It would be nice to say every morning: "Here I am, Lord, your will be done in me today." We will say that in the Angelus' prayer, but we can already repeat it together now: Here I am, Lord, today it be done your will in me!

Maria adds: "It will be done to me as you said it." She doesn't restrict God, she doesn't think: "I'll devote myself a little to him, I'll hurry and then do what I want." No, Mary does not only love the Lord when it suits her, intermittently. She lives by entrusting herself to God in everything and for everything. So here is the secret of life. Whoever entrusts himself to God in everything can do everything. But the Lord, dear brothers and sisters, suffers when we answer him like Adam: "I was frightened and hid." God is the Father, the most tender of fathers, and he wants the trust of his children.

How often, however, do we distrust him, we distrust God! We think he can send us evidence, take away our freedom, leave us. But that is a great deception, it is the original temptation, the temptation of the devil: to arouse suspicion of God. Maria overcomes this first temptation with her »Here I am«. And today we contemplate the beauty of Our Lady, who was born and lived without sin, always docile and transparent to God.

That doesn't mean life was easy for her, no. Being with God does not magically solve problems. The conclusion of today's Gospel reminds us: "The angel left her" (v. 38). He left her: that is a strong word. The angel leaves the Virgin alone in a difficult situation. She knew in what special way she would become Mother of God - the angel had said it - but the angel had not explained it to the others, only to her. And the problems began immediately: think of the situation, which was irregular according to the law, of the agony of St. Joseph, of the plans for life that had already been forged that nothing came of, of what people would say ... But in the face of the problems, Mary gives her a seat Trust in god. She was forsaken by the angel, but she believes that God has stayed with her and in her. And she has confidence.

She trusts God. She is sure that all will be well with the Lord, albeit in unexpected ways. Yes, that is the wise attitude: do not live depending on the problems - when one thing is done, another will present itself! - but to trust God and to entrust himself to him every day: Here I am! "See, here I am" is the word. "See, here I am" is the prayer. Let us ask the Immaculate for grace to live like this.

After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, today in the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Santa Cruz in Oran, Algeria, Bishop Pierre Claverie and eighteen religious men and women who were killed out of hatred of faith were beatified.

Nineteen new blessed ones! These martyrs of our time were faithful evangelizers, humble builders of peace and heroic witnesses of Christian charity: a bishop, priest, religious, religious and lay people. Your courageous testimony is a source of hope for the Algerian Catholic community and a seed of dialogue for all of society. This beatification is an incentive for all to build a world of brotherhood and solidarity together. We all applaud the new blessed together. I assure you that in my prayer I remember the young people and the mother who died tonight in a discotheque in Corinaldo near Ancona, as well as the many injured. I ask the intercession of Our Lady for everyone. I greet you warmly, pilgrims from Italy and from different countries, especially families, parish groups and associations.

On this feast of the Immaculate Conception, Italian parishes renew their membership in Catholic Action, an association that has been a gift and resource for the Church's journey in Italy for 150 years. I encourage their sections at the diocese and parish level to work for the formation of lay people who are able to bear witness to the Gospel and become leaven of a fairer and more solidarity society.

I heartily bless the believers from Rocca di Papa and the torch with which they will light the great star on the fortress of their beautiful city in honor of the Virgin and Mother of God, conceived without original sin. This afternoon I will go to Santa Maria Maggiore to pray to Our Lady and then I will go to Piazza di Spagna to renew the traditional act of worship and prayer at the foot of the Immaculate Conception Monument. I ask you to join me in spirit in this gesture that expresses filial devotion to our Heavenly Mother. I wish everyone a happy holiday and a good journey through Advent under the guidance of the Virgin Mary. Please don't forget to pray for me. Have a good meal and goodbye!