Although she was just a humble young woman from a small town, Mary’s total “yes” to God was “the most important ‘yes’ of history” and overturned Adam and Eve’s prideful “no,” which unleashed sin into the world, Pope Francis said.
“With generosity and trust like Mary, may each of us say this
personal ‘yes’ to God today,” Pope Francis prayed Dec. 8 as he recited
the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square on the feast of
the Immaculate Conception.
Even when they do not say “no” to God, human beings can be experts in saying, “yes, but …” to God, the pope said.
“To avoid saying ‘no’ outright to God, we say, ‘Sorry, but I can’t,’
‘Not today, but maybe tomorrow,’ ‘Tomorrow I will be better, tomorrow I
will pray, I’ll do good tomorrow,'” he said. But in responding that way,
“we close the door to what is good and evil profits.”
Nevertheless, Pope Francis said, God keeps trying to reach out and
save us. And through the “yes” of Mary, he became human, “exactly like
us except for one thing, that ‘no,’ that sin. This is why he chose Mary,
the only creature without sin, immaculate.”
In the late afternoon, the pope made his traditional visit to a
statue of Mary erected in the center of Rome, near the Spanish Steps, to
celebrate the official church recognition that Mary was conceived
Thousands of Romans and tourists crowded around the statue where
people had been laying flowers all day. Early Dec. 8, Rome firefighters
with a truck and ladder hung a wreath of white flowers from the
outstretched arms of the statue.
Pope Francis composed a prayer to Mary for the occasion and read it, standing under the statue’s watchful eyes.
He offered special prayers for children who have been abandoned and
are exposed to exploitation, for all families who give life and
contribute to society, often in hidden ways, and especially for those
who are underemployed or unemployed.
“We need your immaculate gaze,” he told Mary, in order to “rediscover
the ability to look at people and things with respect and recognition
and without selfish interests and hypocrisy.”
“We need your immaculate heart to love unconditionally, without any
aim besides the good of the other, with simplicity and sincerity,
renouncing masks and ploys,” he said.
“We need your immaculate hands to caress with tenderness, to touch
the flesh of Jesus in our brothers and sisters who are poor, sick,
despised, to help up those who have fallen and steady those who waver.”
“We need your immaculate feet to set out to meet those who cannot
take the first step, to walk along the paths of those who are lost, to
go and find those who are alone,” he prayed.