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Pope at Mass: Learning from Mary to keep the Word of God


(Vatican Radio) Like Mary, we must learn to receive and keep the Word of God safe in our hearts. Marking the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary at morning Mass Saturday, Pope Francis pointed out that Mary assimilated the Word of God into her life, by meditating it and pondering what message the Lord had for her through His Word. This, he said is what safekeeping means. Listen: RealAudioMP3


Pope Francis developed his homily around the two themes of astonishment and safekeeping, starting from the Gospel of the day Luke chapter 2. It recounts the astonishment of the teachers in the Temple listening to Jesus and Mary’s keeping the Word of God safe in her heart. Astonishment, the Pope observed, "is more than joy: it is a moment in which the Word of God comes, is sown in our hearts. " But, he warned, "we cannot always live in wonder", this should be “kept in our hearts” throughout our lives. And this is precisely what Mary does, when she is "astonished" and keeps the "Word of God" in her heart:

"Keeping the Word of God: what does this mean? Do I receive the Word, and then take a bottle and put the word into the bottle and keep it there? No. Keeping the Word of God means that our heart opens, it is open to that Word just like the earth opens to receive the seed. The Word of God is a seed and is sown. And Jesus told us what happens with the seeds: some fall along the path, and the birds come and eat them; this Word is not kept, these hearts do not know how to receive it”.

Others, he said, fall into a stony soil and the seed dies. Jesus says that they "do not know how to keep the Word of God because they are not constant: When a tribulation comes they forget." The Pope said that the Word of God can often fall into a soil that is unprepared, unkept, full of thorns. And he asked, what are the thorns? Jesus pointed them out when He spoke of '"attachment to riches, vices”. Pope Francis said “keeping the Word of God means constantly meditating on what this Word says to us and what happens in our life." And this “is what Mary did”, she “pondered and assimilated it". This, said Pope Francis, "is a truly great spiritual work":

“John Paul II said that, because of this work, Mary had a particular heaviness in her heart, she had a fatigued heart. But this is not the same as tired, it is fatigue, this comes from effort. This is the effort of keeping the Word of God : the work of trying to find out what this means at this moment, what the Lord wants to say to me at this time, this situation of questioning the [meaning of ]the Word of God is how we understand. This is reading our life with the Word of God and this is what it means to keep it in our hearts".

Pope Francis added that memory also safeguards God's Word. “It helps us to preserve it, to remember everything the Lord has done in my life". He continued : “it reminds us of all the wonders of salvation in His people and in my heart. Memory safeguards the Word of God. " The Pope concluded his homily urging everyone to think "about how to keep the Word of God in our hearts, how to safeguard this astonishment, so that it is not eaten by the birds, suffocated by vices":

"We would do well to ask ourselves: 'With the things that happen in life, I ask myself the question: what is the Lord saying to me with His Word, right now?'. This is called keeping the Word of God, because the Word of God is precisely the message that the Lord gives us in every moment. Let us safeguard it with this: safeguard it with our memory. And safeguard it with our hope. We ask the Lord for the grace to receive the Word of God and keep it, and also the grace to have a heart that is fatigued in this effort. So be it. "

Saturday morning Mass was attended by staff from Caritas Internationalis, accompanied by the secretary general, Michel Roy.