Mary the Star
by Pope John Paul II


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the Apostle Luke presents Mary to us as a pilgrim of love. But Elizabeth draws attention to her faith and states the first Beatitude of the Gospels in her regard:  "Blessed is she who believed". This expression is a kind of key which unlocks for us the innermost reality of Mary. As a conclusion to the catecheses of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, then, we would like to present the Mother of the Lord as a pilgrim in faith. As the Daughter of Zion, she walks in the footsteps of Abraham, the one who obeyed by faith, going out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go" (Heb 11: 8). This symbol of the pilgrimage in faith sheds light on the interior history of Mary, the believer par excellence, as the Second Vatican Council already suggested:  “The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross.”

The Annunciation is the point of departure from which her whole journey towards God begins:  a journey of faith which, knowing the prediction that a sword would pierce her heart, advanced down the tortuous paths of exile in Egypt and of inner darkness, when Mary "did not understand" the attitude of the 12-year-old Jesus in the temple and yet kept "all these things in her heart." (Lk 2: 51).

The peak of her earthly pilgrimage of faith was Golgotha, where Mary intimately lived her Son's paschal mystery:  in a certain sense she died as a mother in the death of the Son and was opened to the "resurrection" with a new motherhood for the Church. There, on Calvary, Mary experienced the night of faith, like that of Abraham on Mount Moriah, and after the enlightenment of Pentecost she continued on her pilgrimage of faith until the Assumption, when the Son welcomed her into eternal bliss. The Blessed Virgin Mary continues to go before the People of God. Her exceptional pilgrimage of faith represents a constant point of reference for the Church, for individuals and for communities, for peoples and nations, and in a sense for all humanity. She is the star of the third millennium, just as, at the beginning of the Christian era, she was the dawn that preceded Jesus on the horizon of history. Mary, in fact, was born chronologically before Christ and gave birth to him, introducing him into our human events. We turn to her so that she may continue to lead us to Christ and to the Father, even in the dark night of evil and in moments of doubt, crisis, silence and suffering.

Her visit to Elizabeth is sealed by the canticle of the Magnificat, a hymn that has come down through all Christian centuries as a perennial melody. A hymn that unites their hearts of Christ's disciples beyond the historical divisions, which we are committed to overcoming in view of full communion. In this ecumenical atmosphere, it is good to remember that in 1521 Martin Luther devoted a famous commentary to this "holy canticle of the Blessed Mother of God", as he expressed it. In it he says that the hymn "must be learned well and remembered by all", because "in the Magnificat, Mary teaches us how we should love and praise God.... She wants to be the greatest example of God's grace in order to spur everyone to have trust and to praise divine grace."

Mary celebrates the primacy of God and his grace. From the moment when God looked on her with love, Mary became a sign of hope for the multitude of the poor, the earth's least ones who become the first in the kingdom of God.

Condensed from L’Osservatore Romano-25 March 2001 from the Vatican web site:

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