Pope Francis turned his reflection to Mary, saying how the Church invites the faithful at the opening of the new year to contemplate her "divine maternity as an icon of peace."
"In her, the ancient promise finds fulfilment," he said. "She believed in the words of the angel, conceived her Son and thus became the Mother of the Lord. Through her, through her 'yes', the fullness of time came about."
The Pope recalled the day's Gospel reading which recounts the shepherds visiting the newly-born Jesus, and observed how Mary "treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart" (Lk 2:19).
"She appears to us as a vessel filled to the brim with the memory of Jesus, as the Seat of Wisdom to whom we can have recourse to understand his teaching aright," he said.
"Today Mary makes it possible for us to grasp the meaning of events which affect us personally, events which also affect our families, our countries and the entire world."
"Where philosophical reason and political negotiation cannot reach, there the power of faith, which brings the grace of Christ's Gospel, can reach, opening ever new pathways to reason and to negotiation."
The Pope concluded by appealing to Mary, saying: "Send us your blessing on this day consecrated to your honour. Show us the face of Jesus your Son, who bestows upon the entire world mercy and peace."
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."
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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.