VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis led the first Marian prayer of the new year with swarms of pilgrims gathered at the Vatican Sunday, urging an openness to Jesus in our hearts so that evil won't prevail in our lives.
Speaking to a packed St. Peter's Square Jan. 3, the Pope reflected on the day's reading from the first chapter of St. John's Gospel, where “the Word” was “made flesh and dwelt among us.”
But despite the reality of Christ's presence on earth, St. John “does not hide the dramatic nature of the incarnation of the Son of God” — since the “gift of the love of God is matched with the non-reception on the part of men,” the Pope said.
“The Word is the light, and yet men have preferred the darkness; the Word came unto his own, but they did not receive him; they closed the door in the face of the Son of God,” Pope Francis said.
“It is the mystery of evil that insinuates [itself] into our lives, too, and that demands vigilance and care on our part so that it will not prevail.”
Pope Francis then quoted the Book of Genesis, warning that evil “lies in wait at our door.”
“Woe to us if we allow it to enter; it would then close our door to anyone else. Instead, we are called to throw open the doors of our hearts to the Word of God, to Jesus, in order to become his children.”
“If we welcome him, if we welcome Jesus, we will grow in understanding and in the love of the Lord; we will learn to be merciful as he is,” the Pope said.
“Especially in this holy Year of Mercy, let us make sure that the Gospel becomes ever more incarnate in our own lives, too.”
And how do we make sure of this? “Drawing near to the Gospel, meditating on it and incarnating it in daily life is the best way to understand Jesus and bring him to others,” the Pope reflected.
“This is the vocation and the joy of every baptized person: showing Jesus and giving him to others; but to do that, we have to know him and have him within us, as the Lord of our life,” the Pope said.
“And he will defend us from evil, from the devil [who] is always lying in wait by our door and wants to enter.”
Pope Francis concluded his remarks before praying the Angelus with the crowds by saying: “Let us entrust ourselves once again to Mary: Let us contemplate the sweet image of the mother of Jesus and our mother in these days of the manger.”