Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Listening, decision, and action are traits that Mary shows throughout her life, in particular when she visited Elizabeth. They reflect the eternal relationship with God that every Christian should behold as model and example to follow.
Tonight, St Peter's Square resonated with the voices of 20,000 people reciting the Rosary. As candles cast their light on the crowd, a statue of Our Lady was carried through it.
At the end of the Marian prayer led by the Vicar General for Vatican City Card Angelo Comastri, Pope Francis delivered his meditation.
However, before the meeting with the faithful in St Peter's Square, Francis met a group of 22 children, three sisters among them, hospitalised in the Paediatric Oncology Ward of Rome's 'Agostino Gemelli Teaching Hospital'.
The meeting, Vatican Press Office director Fr Federico Lombardi said, took place in an atmosphere of prayer and great emotion, but also of joy, as it does every time children are involved.
The Pope spoke to the little ones and others who were present. He listened to their questions and accepted their small gifts, urging them to feel the presence of Jesus always near them "because Jesus loves them a lot."
After reciting Hail Mary together, the Pope gave them his blessing, which is "like a hug from God."
Lastly, as he usually does, he greeted with great affection all those present, each child with his or her parents.
In tonight's meditation, he was inspired by today's feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elisabeth. "Three words," he said, "sum up Mary's attitude-listening, decision, and action-words that point to a road that stands before what the Lord asks of us in life."
"Listening. Where does the Mary's decision to visit her cousin Elizabeth come from? From a word of the angel of God, 'And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son . . .' (Luke, 1:36). Mary knows how to listen to God. Don't forget that it is not just 'hearing'; it is 'listening' by paying attention, accepting, and showing openness to God. It is not the careless way by which we sometimes stand before the Lord or others. We hear words, but do not truly listen to them. Mary pays attention to God and listens to God. Mary also listens to the facts; that is, she reads the events of her life, paying attention to the tangible reality and does not stop at the surface; she goes deeper, to grasp the meaning. Another relative, Elisabeth, who is already old, is expecting a child: that is a fact. But Mary pays attention to its meaning, and knows how to grasp it 'for nothing will be impossible for God'."
"This also applies to our lives: listening to God speaking to us, and listening to everyday reality, paying attention to people and facts because the Lord is at the door of our life, and knocks in many ways, places signs on our path. It is up to us to see them."
"Decision" was the second trait the Pope stressed. "Mary does not live 'in a hurry', stressed out, but, as Saint Luke put it, 'Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.' Even at the decisive moment of the Annunciation by the Angel, she asked, 'How can this be?' Yet, she did not stop to reflect, but took a step forward: she made a decision. She did not live in a hurry, but only when it was necessary did she "go quickly." Mary did not let herself be carried away by events, she did not skirt the difficulty of the decision. This was true both in the fundamental choice that would change her life, the Annunciation, "and in the daily choices, that are also very meaningful," like the marriage of Cana. "Even here, we see Mary's realism, humanity, and pragmatism. She paid attention to facts and issues. She saw and understood the difficulty of the two young newlyweds whose wedding was running short on wine. She thought about and knew that Jesus could do something, and so turned to the Son so that he might act, for 'They have no wine'."
"In life, it is difficult to make decisions; we often tend to postpone them, let others decide for us. We often prefer to be carried away by events, and follow the fashion of the moment. Sometimes, we know what we have to do, but we do not have the courage to do it or it seems too difficult because it means going against the current. In the Annunciation, the Visitation, the marriage at Cana, Mary went against the current. She listened to God, reflected upon and sought to understand reality. And she decided to entrust herself completely to God. She decided to visit, despite her pregnancy, her elderly relative, and was insistent on her Son to save the joy of the marriage."
Last: action. "Mary set out on the road 'in a hurry' . . . . Last Sunday, I pointed out how Mary, despite difficulties and criticism for her decision did not stop at anything. She left 'in a hurry'. But when she was praying, before God who was talking, and reflecting and meditating on the facts of her life, Mary was not in a hurry; she did not go with the flow and did not let herself be carried away by events. When it was clear what God was asking of her, telling her what she had to do, she did not linger, nor slow down, but went quickly."
"Mary's action is a consequence of her obedience to the Angel's words, together with her charity. She visited Elizabeth to help out. By stepping out of her home, and of herself, for love, she carried what was most precious to her, Jesus: she carried her Son."
"Sometimes, we also stop to listen, and reflect on what we should do. Perhaps, we already know what decision we must take, but fail to act. We especially do challenge ourselves by moving quickly towards others to help them, show them understanding, and charity, so that we too might uphold, like Mary, the most precious thing we received, i.e. Jesus and his Gospel, in words and, above all, concrete deeds."