We ask God for the grace to bring his divine mercy into the world.

“Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’”
Luke 1:38

painting of The AnnunciationIn all of his visitations throughout the world, Pope Francis always takes time to visit the people on the peripheries. He visits the slums, children’s hospitals, the ministries to the immigrants, homes for the aged. Pope Francis does this so that all would recognize the presence of God among those whom society would write off as expendable. In the age of the Roman Empire, as poor peasants in Galilee, Mary and Joseph would be numbered among those who would be ignored by the powerful.

As a young teenage woman in her society, Mary was the least likely person to be considered worthy of being visited by an angel of God. She was young in a world where wisdom was seen in the context of old age. She was a woman in a world controlled by men. She was betrothed but had not yet begun to live as wife with Joseph. Mary lived in an indeterminate state. She lived dependent on others to provide her daily bread and, along with everyone else in her society, she lived close to the edge of famine should the spring rains fail.

The coming of the angel Gabriel surprised her. Mary discovered that she was highly favored by God; she was being asked to become the mother of the Son of God. She said “yes” obediently to God’s request.

The story of Joseph’s discovery of Mary’s pregnancy in Matthew 1:18–25 indicates the risks that Mary took in saying yes to God. She risked being shunned by her village and family; she risked being accused of adultery, which carried the penalty of death (Deuteronomy 22:21‒23); she risked being left out in the cold. Yet, in spite of all these risks she opened her heart to God and made possible the birth of Jesus, who would bring divine mercy to the world.

Today we petition Mary to intercede for us that we may receive the grace to recognize Jesus’ presence in those whom the world would shun. We ask her to help us be open to God’s Word as she was, to be a source of God’s mercy by giving those who live on the margins the resources they need to flourish.

Image: James Tissot, The Annunciation, opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
Pope Francis
“Mary’s faith is the fulfilment of Israel’s faith, the whole journey, the whole path of that people awaiting redemption is contained in her, and it is in this sense that she is the model of the Church’s faith, which has Christ, the incarnation of God’s infinite love, as its center. ”
General Audience, 23 October 2013

Lord, be with us so we may open our hearts to your presence in the world, especially among those most in need.