Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Advent 2011 homily by H.E. Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, S.J.

[Cdl. Bergoglio ponders the role of the BVM during Advent.]

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law: That He might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: 'Abba, Father.' Therefore now he is not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir also through God.” (Galatians 4:4-7)

“And Ozias the prince of the people of Israel, said to her: 'Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth. Blessed be the Lord who made heaven and earth, who hath directed thee to the cutting off the head of the prince of our enemies. Because he hath so magnified thy name this day, that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men who shall be mindful of the power of the Lord for ever, for that thou hast not spared thy life, by reason of the distress and tribulation of thy people, but hast prevented our ruin in the presence of our God.'” (Judith 13: 23-25)

“And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to Him: 'They have no wine.' And Jesus saith to her: 'Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come.' His mother saith to the waiters: 'Whatsoever He shall say to ye, do ye.'

Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: 'Fill the waterpots with water.' And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: 'Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast.' And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, And saith to him: 'Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now.'
This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee; and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him." (John 2:1-11)

Today's liturgy has a decidedly temporal accent: the time established, the fullness of time, three days, the hour… This takes us from the “eternal time” of God to the smallest moment of men; this is God's own style, said in more illustrative language, the “divine eterno-temporal” which, throughout our history, superimposes a “catholic eterno-temporal”: “non coerceri a maximo contineri tamen a mimimo divinum est” (Cf. S.Th. III, q.1, art.1, obj.4). These hearinsg we have heard are part of the compendium of salvation history, from the greatest to the least, in which appear the marvels of redemption: the sending of the divine Son, but born of a woman and in tiny Bethlehem (Cf. Mic. 5:2), tine in all its fullness, yet contained in that moment, those waterpots used for the rites of purification become vessels of that new wine, and at the sametime, also vessels of the promise of that other wine; litres of water that, as the poet wrote, upon gazing on the face of the Lord, blushed.


At one time all becomes concrete: from the Word, eternal like the Father, conceived in the womb of the Virgin, to the wedding feast as the first sign of Jesus with the changing of water into wine. There isn't any room for any type of gnosticism or “heroic” pelagianism. All is grace, tangible grace, poured forth out of love. All is concrete: there is a mother, there is the Son born of a woman, there are friends and disciples. The mother points out, intercedes and finally disposes...but [only] in reference to the Son: “do whatever He tells you.” It is fitting, then, that in the [physical] space of Cana, the eternal Word should speak the word of the moment. And that Word, in which all things were created (cf. Col. 1: 16), in which all things subsist (ibid. 17), is concerned with six waterpots, and grants the rank collaborators of this sign of salvation to the servants of the banquet. The great and the small together…and the mediation of that mother who makes possibile the dialogue between the two, the eternal and the temporal, that God may continue to involve Himself in our comings and goings.
Because God had a desire to enter, in a human way in our history, He needed a mother, and He asked us for one. She is the mother at whom we gaze upon today, the daughter of our people, the handmaid, the pure, the one who is solely God's; the one who is discreet so her Son may realize that sign, the one who is always making possible that reality, but not as its author or even its protagonist, but as that handmaid; the nightime star that dims herself that the sun may be manifested. Such is the mediation of Mary about whom we refer today. Mediation of a woman who does not que no renege on her maternity, who has assumed from the very beginning; maternity with dual births, one in Bethlehem and teh other at Calvary; maternity that contains and accompanies the friends of her Son, who is her only reference point until the end of days.
And so Mary remains among us, “situated at the very centre of that ‘emnisty’ of the protevangelium, of that struggle which accompanies the history of the human race.” (Cf. Redempt. Mater 11). [She is the] Mother who makes possible the spaces for the arrival of Grace. That Grace that revolutionizes and transforms our existence and our identity: the Holy Spirit who makes us adoptive children, liberates us from all slavery, [and] in a very real and mystical way, grants us the gift of liberty; and which clamors, from within us, the invocation of our new belongingness: "Father!"

Today we venerate her as Mother and Serviant, she who precedes Christ on the horizon of salvation history (Cf. Redempt. Mater, 3), who accompanies the Church which, comforted by the [Real] Presence of Christ, walks throughout time towards the consummation of all time, towards an encounter with the Lord and, on this path, proceeds to walk anew the course walked by the Virgin Mary, "who advanced in that pilgrimage of faith and faithfully mantained union with her Son unto the Cross." (cf. ibid, 2). of her we ask that she, as a good Mother who knows how to straighten things, make room in our heart that amidst the abundance of sin, the grace of the Spirit may be superabundant...which makes us both free and sons.

Reflecting and contemplating on these realities which strengthen and console, on this day when we mediate on the cause of our joy, let us apermit ourselves, with both audacity and familiarity normal for sons and daughters, flatter and praise her with the words of Scripture: “Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth. Blessed be the Lord who made heaven and earth, who hath directed thee to the cutting off the head of the prince of our enemies. Because he hath so magnified thy name this day, that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men who shall be mindful of the power of the Lord for ever, for that thou hast not spared thy life, by reason of the distress and tribulation of thy people, but hast prevented our ruin in the presence of our God.” (Judith 13: 23-25)

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