Pope Francis celebrated yesterday’s Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God with two homilies. In the first, given at Vespers on the vigil of the feast (31-December-2013), he encouraged us to examine ourselves by reviewing how we lived during the calendar year which is about to end:
While the year 2013 comes to an end, we gather, as in a basket, the days, the weeks, the months that we have lived, to offer everything to the Lord. And we ask ourselves: how have we lived the time He has given us? Did we use it above all for ourselves, for our interests, or did we know how to spend it also for others? And God? How much time did we reserve to “be with Him,” in prayer, in silence?
We should develop the habit of examining ourselves in this manner frequently – even daily! Notice that Pope Francis understands the primacy of the interior life (of which our Blessed Mother is the best example), which is the foundation upon which our life of service is built. Our Lord prefers that we offer our actions to Him only if we are first striving to deepen our relationship with Him:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
The following day (01-January-2014) in his homily at Mass, Pope Francis highlighted two aspects of the holiness of our Blessed Mother which we should strive to emulate:
The Mother of the Redeemer goes before us and continually strengthens us in faith, in our vocation and in our mission. By her example of humility and openness to God’s will she helps us to transmit our faith in a joyful proclamation of the Gospel to all, without reservation.
If we include devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in our own spiritual lives, grow in humility, and seek and embrace God’s will (versus our own will, preferences, etc.), we will be inspired to joyfully proclaim Jesus to others.