ROME — Pope Francis said Saturday that hurting a woman insults God because God took on our humanity from a woman, the Virgin Mary.
God “did not do it through an angel; nor did he come directly; he did it through a woman,” the pope insisted in his homily for the Catholic feast of Mary Mother of God, a celebration going back to 431 AD, when the Council of Ephesus declared Mary to be Theotokos, or mother of God.
Since mothers “bestow life, and women ‘keep’ the world, let us all make greater efforts to promote mothers and to protect women,” Francis said. “How much violence is directed against women! Enough!”
The new year, 2022, begins “under the sign of the Holy Mother of God, under the sign of the Mother,” the pontiff declared. “A mother’s gaze is the path to rebirth and growth.”
“We need mothers, women who look at the world not to exploit it, but so that it can have life,” he continued. “Women who, seeing with the heart, can combine dreams and aspirations with concrete reality, without drifting into abstraction and sterile pragmatism.”
The pope carried on the allusion by referring to the Church as a mother and this, as a woman.
The Church is “a Mother and this is what makes the Church feminine,” Francis asserted. “For this reason, we cannot find a place for women in the Church without allowing the heart of the Woman and Mother to shine.”
“This is the place of women in the Church, the great place, from which other places, more concrete and less important, are derived. But the Church is Mother, the Church is woman,” he insisted.
In moments of tension, mothers “do not divide, they keep, and in this way enable life to grow,” he said. “It is the way so many mothers embrace the problems of their children.”
In a sustained paean to motherhood, Francis said that mothers’ maternal gaze “does not yield to stress; it is not paralyzed before those problems but sees them in a wider perspective.”
“We can think of the faces of all those mothers who care for a child who is ill or experiencing difficulties. What great love we see in their eyes!” he stated. “Even amid their tears, they are able to inspire hope.”
“Theirs is a gaze that is conscious and realistic, but at the same time offering, beyond the pain and the problems, a bigger picture, one of care and love that gives birth to new hope,” he said.
“That is what mothers do: they know how to overcome obstacles and disagreements, and to instill peace,” he added. “In this way, they transform problems into opportunities for rebirth and growth.”
“We need such people, capable of weaving the threads of communion in place of the barbed wire of conflict and division,” he said. “Mothers know how to do this.”