On the Meaning of the Annunciation
John Paul II Entrusts Fears of the World to Mary
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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 24, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today at the general audience, which he dedicated to comment on the meaning of Thursday's solemnity of the Annunciation.
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1. Tomorrow we celebrate the solemnity of the Annunciation, which allows us contemplate the Incarnation of the eternal Word, made man in Mary's womb. The Virgin's "yes" opened the doors to the realization of the salvific plan of the heavenly Father, a plan of redemption for all people.
This feast, which this year falls in the middle of Lent, on one hand refers us to the beginnings of salvation, and on the other invites us to turn our gaze to the paschal mystery. We look at Christ crucified who has redeemed humanity, fulfilling to the end the will of the Father. On Calvary, in his last moments of life, Jesus entrusted us to Mary as Mother and to her he has commended us as children.
Associated to the mystery of the Incarnation, Our Lady is co-participant in the mystery of redemption. Her fiat, which we recall tomorrow, echoes that of the incarnate Word. In profound syntony with Christ's and the Virgin's fiat, each one of us is called to unite his own "yes" to the mysterious plans of Providence. In fact, only from full adherence to the Divine Will do that joy and true peace spring which we all ardently desire also for our times.
2. On the vigil of this feast, at once Christological and Marian, my thoughts turn to some significant moments at the beginning of my pontificate: the 8th of December of 1978 at St. Mary Major, when I entrusted the Church and the world to Our Lady; the 4th of June of the following year, when I renewed this entrustment in the Shrine of Jasna Gora. In particular, I am thinking of the 25th of March of 1984, Holy Year of the Redemption. Twenty years have gone by since that day, when in St. Peter's Square, in spiritual union with all the bishops of the world "convoked" in advance, I wished to entrust the whole of humanity to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, responding to what Our Lady had requested at Fatima.
3. Humanity was then going through difficult times, of great concern and uncertainty. Twenty years later, the world continues to be fearfully marked by hatred, violence, terrorism and war. Among the numerous victims that the news records every day, there are so many defenseless people, stricken while carrying out their duty. In today's Day, dedicated to the memory and to prayer for the "Martyr Missionaries," we cannot but remember the priests, consecrated persons, and lay faithful deceased in mission land in the course of 2003. So much blood continues to be spilt in many regions of the world. The need is still urgent for people to open their hearts to a courageous effort of reciprocal understanding. The hope for justice and peace is ever greater in every part of the earth. How can we respond to this thirst for hope and love other than by taking recourse to Christ, through Mary? To the Holy Virgin I repeat also today the supplication I addressed to her then. "Mother of Christ, may the infinite salvific power of the Redemption be revealed once again in the history of the world: power of merciful Love! May it put a stop to evil! May it transform consciences! May the light of hope be revealed to all in your Immaculate Heart!"
[Translation by ZENIT]
[At the end of the audience, one of the Holy Father's aides read the following summary in English:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Tomorrow we celebrate the solemnity of the Annunciation, recalling the Virgin's unconditional "yes" which opened the way to God's salvific plan for all men and women. This feast, in the heart of Lent, draws our minds to Calvary where, in full obedience to the will of the Father, the crucified Christ redeemed humanity.
Like the fiat of Mary and of Jesus, we too are called to unite our own "yes" to God's Providence. Only in this way can the joy and peace for which the world longs emerge.
Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, let us entrust ourselves to the power of Christ's merciful love.
[John Paul II then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]
I extend a special welcome to the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today, including groups from England, Sweden and the United States of America. May your visit to Rome be a time of spiritual enrichment. Entrusting you to the protection of Mary, I invoke upon you the grace and peace of her Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.