On Sunday Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his Angelus reflections to Our Lady. Speaking to 4,000 people gathered in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo’s apostolic palace, he explained that, like Mary, Catholics are called to say yes to God.
Inspired by Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Benedict said, “One cannot but be affected by this correspondence, which revolves around the symbol of the heavens. Mary was ascended to the place from which her son descended. Of course, this language, which is biblical, expresses in a figurative way something one can only draw close to through certainly far from easy concepts.”
“But let’s stop a moment to reflect,” he added. “Jesus is presented as the living bread, that is the food that contains the very life of God and that is able to communicate it to those who east of him… well, from whom did the Son of God take his flesh, his real and earthly humanity? He took it from the Virgin Mary. God took her human form to enter into our mortal condition.”
“In turn, at the end of her earthly existence, the body of the Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven by God and allowed to enter the heavenly condition,” the Pope continued. “It is a kind of exchange, in which God always has the initiative, but in a sense, in which he also needs Mary to prepare the matter of his sacrifice: the body and blood to be offered on the cross as an instrument of eternal life and in the Sacrament of the Eucharist as spiritual food and drink.”
“What happened to Mary is also valid for every man and woman,” he expounded. “God asks each of us to welcome him, to make available to him our hearts, our bodies, our entire existence, so that he can dwell in the world. He calls us to join ourselves to him in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, to form the Church together…by the very nature of our yes, that mysterious exchange also happens to and in us. We are assumed in the divinity of he who assumed our humanity.”
“The Eucharist is the means, the instrument of this reciprocal transformation, which has God as the end and as a main actor,” the Holy Father told the faithful. “He is the head and we the members, he the vine and we the branches. Who eats of this Bread and lives in communion with Jesus, allowing himself to be transformed by him and in him, is saved from eternal death. He will, of course, die like everyone else, participating in the mystery of the passion and cross of Christ, but he is no longer a slave of death and will rise on the last day to enjoy the eternal feast with Mary and all the saints.”
“This mystery of eternal life begins here in the mystery of faith, hope and love, which is celebrated in the liturgy, especially the Eucharist, and is expressed through fraternal communion and in service to our neighbor,” he concluded. “Let us pray to the Blessed Virgin to help us nourish ourselves in faith, with the Bread of eternal life, to experience already on earth the joy of heaven.”