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Mary, Mother of Unity

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II
in the Jubilee of the Redemption
General Audience, Wednesday 18 May 1983 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Christ is "our peace"; the one/he who has reconciled us "with God in a single/one body through means of the cross" (cf Eph 2, 14.16).

Dearest (ones/friends), it is the month of May, the month of Our Lady: in the light of Mary we better understand the depth of the reconciliation that Christ has brought about between us and God. The love of the Mother of Jesus, manifesting itself towards each of us, brings us the sign of the Father's benevolence and tenderness. Moreover such a love helps us to better understand that reconciliation also concerns the rapports/relationships between men (& women)/of men with each other/among themselves, since being mother of the Church, Mary is mother of unity and is committed to favouring/fostering all that which unites her children, all that which brings them closer.

When we consider the fruits of Christ's redemptive work, we observe the close link that exists between the two reconciliations: of man with God, and of men & women with each other. By the fact that all men & women are reconciled with God, they are also reconciled among/with each other.

We must remember that, according to biblical revelation, the sin which separates man from God has the collateral and inevitable effect of dividing men amongst themselves/from one another. When hostility digs a distance between man and God, it also makes man rise up against his fellow men.

In the tower of Babel the Bible has placed before/under our eyes an striking image of this perverse dynamic. When men, pushed/driven by their pride, decide to build a tower that reaches to touch the sky, allowing them to dispose of/have a power capable of rivaling that of God's, they find themselves having the ruinous experience of the disunion that is established among them because of the diversity of languages ​​(cf Gen 11, 1-9). Opposing God and wanting to measure oneself with him by not accepting his sovereignty, means introducing disruptive and irreducible tensions into social rapports/relationships.

On the contrary, the reconciliation of the sinner with God arouses in him the drive/push towards reconciliation with his brothers. St Paul has underlined this truth by affirming that in Christ the two parts of humanity, the Jews and the pagans, have been reconciled with God to form a sole/one body, a sole/one new man. With his sacrifice, Christ has canceled in his flesh the hatred that divided men; by offering to everyone the same possibility of access to the Father in a sole/one Spirit, he has abolished the barriers that separated them, and established peace between them. For this/This is why Christ is "our peace" (2 Cor 3, 14).

2. St Paul knew from personal experience what such universal reconciliation meant. Before his conversion, he had lived with hostile dispositions in regard to those who did not adhere to the Jewish cult. But when his heart was converted to Christ, a surprising change took place in these dispositions, to the point that he became the apostle of the pagans. From that moment he no longer admitted any barrier to universalism. As in Judaism he had been an relentless persecutor of Christians, with equal ardour he was from then on, in the diffusion/spread of the Christian faith, a messenger with an immense heart without borders. Who does not remember his strong words: "There is no longer Jew nor Greek; there is no longer slave nor free; there is no longer man nor woman, since you are all one in Christ Jesus "(Gal 3, 28)? Evidently Paul does not deny that differences subsist between men. What he wants to affirm is that these differences can no longer be motive for division, because Christ has unified everything in his person.

The position of the Apostle perfectly reflects the thought of Jesus. To be convinced of this, it is enough to go back to that extraordinarily dense page, in which John collected the "priestly prayer" of the divine Master. By asking the Father that all be one as the Father and he are one (Jn 17, 21-22), Jesus indicates the perfect model of the union he wants to establish. The reconciliation that his sacrifice must obtain for humanity is not a simple suppression of existing divisions and the re-establishment of an accord/agreement; it looks at/aims to institute/establish a unity of higher order, with the communication of the unity of the divine persons to the community of human persons. The reconciliation is thus more than a reparation of lost unity; it raises the accord/agreement between men to the level of a participation in the perfect accord which reigns in the divine community. Not by chance Scripture underlines the fundamental role carried out in this by the Holy Spirit: being the personal love of the Father and the Son, it is he who works in humanity so as to realise a unity, of which the divine unity is the foundation and the model.

3. It is therefore not surprising that, in his teaching, the Master has many times attracted the attention of his disciples to the urgent duty to seek reconciliation wherever there is discord. The will of reconciliation is (the) impelling condition of a prayer welcome/pleasing to God: the one/he who goes to lay down his offering at the altar must first of all be reconciled with his brother (cf Mt 5, 23-24). Whatever the offense committed may be, and even if frequently repeated, the effort at reconciliation must never be abandoned, because the disciple cannot put limits on his forgiveness, according to the prescription made to Peter: "Not just seven times, but seventy times seven "(Mt 18, 22).

By saying: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you" (Lk 6, 27), Jesus shows how reconciliation must be manifested immediately with intimate dispositions: even/also where an effective reconciliation is not yet possible, due to the hostile attitude of the other, the Christian must be animated by an authentic, sincere love. For him there is the duty of reconciliation of the heart, personal reconciliation through feelings of benevolence.

Christ well knows the difficulties that test men in reconciling with each other. With the redemptive sacrifice he has obtained for everyone/all the strength/force necessary to overcome them. Thus no man can say that he is incapable of reconciling with his neighbour, (just) as he cannot say that he is incapable of reconciling with God. The Cross has made all the barriers fall that close the hearts of men to one another.

In the world there is felt an immense need for reconciliation. The struggles sometimes assail/affect all fields of individual, family, social, national and international life. If Christ had not suffered so as to establish the unity of the human community, one could think that such conflicts are irremediable. But the Saviour efficaciously pushes/drives all men & women to union and reconciliation; through the Holy Spirit he reunites/gathers them more and more in his love.

Thus let us renew our faith in this divine energy operating in the world and commit ourselves to collaborating with it so as to contribute in this way to the advent of peace among men and to the extension of the joy that derives from it."


"Chers Frères et Sœurs, Je suis très heureux de vous accueillir ici, pèlerins français, belges, suisses, canadiens, vietnamiens, et d’autres pays de langue française. Je souhaite la paix et la joie aux prêtres, aux religieux, aux religieuses, à tous les laïcs, jeunes et adultes qui ont la grâce de faire ici, à Rome, l’expérience de l’Eglise universelle, avec des chrétiens de tous pays réunis dans la foi et la prière.

Précisément, la réconciliation des hommes entre eux - dont j’ai parlé aujourd’hui - est inséparable de la réconciliation avec Dieu, que le Christ nous a obtenue par son Sacrifice. Quand les hommes pécheurs rejettent, par orgueil, la souveraineté de Dieu - comme dans l’épisode de la tour de Babel - la désunion, voire la haine, surgissent entre eux. Notre monde a un immense besoin de réconciliation, à tous les niveaux. Mais le Christ a détruit le mur de la haine, en réconciliant en un seul corps les juifs et les païens, et tous les groupes humains, comme le dit saint Paul qui en a fait l’expérience. Les hommes demeurent différents, mais ces différences ne peuvent plus être motifs de division, d’inimitié. Bien plus, le Christ est venu instaurer une unité supérieure, qui est participation à l’unité existant entre les personnes divines. Il nous faut donc rechercher toujours la réconciliation, et, si l’hostilité de l’autre ne la permet pas présentement, le chrétien continue à nourrir des sentiments de bienveillance, à aimer, à faire du bien et à prier. L’Esprit Saint - que nous invoquons plus encore en cette neuvaine préparatoire à la Pentecôte - donne à celui qui la lui demande la force de se réconcilier avec Dieu et avec le prochain. Et Marie, la Mère de l’Eglise et de l’unité, intercède pour nous. En vous encourageant dans cette voie, de tout cœur je vous donne ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is our peace, Saint Paul says. By his death and Resurrection, he has reconciled us with God and has given us a share in the very life of the Blessed Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. At the same time, Christ has reconciled us with one another, breaking down the barriers of sin and hostility which kept us apart. Through his Cross, he has given us access in one spirit to the Father and called us to continue his mission of reconciliation. With the help of the Holy Spirit we strive to bring unity and peace to the world.

I am pleased to welcome the many visitors and pilgrims who have come to Rome in this Jubilee Year of the Redemption, in particular those from England, Ireland, Sweden, Korea, Australia, Canada and the United States. And I greet the participants in the meeting of the European Maritime Pilots’ Association, who have come from various countries of Western Europe. I wish to extend warm greetings to the international group of Anglican Clergy who have come to Rome for a special Seminar. Your presence here bears witness to our common desire that the prayer of Christ for all Christians might be fulfilled: that they may be one. I offer a special word of welcome to the Christian Brothers attending a renewal course in Rome. As we draw near to the Feast of Pentecost, I pray that the Holy Spirit will pour out his richest blessings upon you and upon all those you love and serve.

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern! Mit Freude Begrüsse ich euch zur heutigen Jubiläumsaudienz: die genannten Gruppen und jeden einzelnen, besonders die zahlreichen Pfarrgruppen und die Jugendlichen von verschiedenen deutschen Schulen. Möge eure Romwallfahrt im Heiligen Jahr der Erlösung euch, euren Familien und Gemeinden in der Heimat reiche Gnaden vermitteln.

Christus hat uns durch sein Erlösungsopfer mit Gott versöhnt. Zugleich hat er dadurch auch Frieden gestiftet unter den Menschen. Die Versöhnung mit Gott reißt gleichzeitig alle trennenden Schranken zwischen den Menschen nieder. Wie der hl. Paulus sagt, gibt es in Christus,”nicht mehr Juden und Griechen, nicht Sklaven und Freie, nicht Mann und Frau; denn ihr seid alle, "einer" in Jesus Christus“. Christus hat den Vater gebeten, daß alle eins seien, so wie er mit dem Vater eins ist. Christliche Versöhnung und Gemeinschaft ist so innig wie die Einheit zwischen den göttlichen Personen. Unsere Versöhnung mit dem Bruder ist die unerläßliche Voraussetzung für ein Gott wohlgefälliges Beten und Opfern. Christus ermahnt uns, unserem Bruder nicht nur siebenmal, sondern siebenundsiebzigmal zu verzeihen und sogar unsere Feinde zu lieben. Die heutige Menschheit bedarf so dringlich der christlichen Versöhnung. Stiften und schenken wir sie dort, wo wir sie anderen zu vermitteln vermögen: in unserer Familie, am Arbeitsplatz, in der Gemeinde. Dazu verhelfe euch Gott mit meinem besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas, Recibid mi cordial saludo y mi Bendición todos los peregrinos aquí presentes de lengua española. En particular los miembros de los grupos diocesanos de Bilbao, de Gerona y de Madrid; de las parroquias del Sagrado Corazón del Tibidabo, en Barcelona, y de Nuestra Señora de la Merced, de Burgos. Mi saludo también para los jóvenes de Bañolas y de Madrid, así como para cada una de las personas venidas de México y de Chile.

A todos os aliento, en este Año Santo de la Redención a buscar de veras vuestra reconciliación con Dios y con los hermanos. Destruyendo el pecado que rompe nuestra comunión de amor con el Señor y que daña a todos los miembros de la Iglesia. Vivir la Redención en este Año Santo, significa empeñarse en hacer nuestra vida mejor, reforzando nuestra unión interior con Cristo mediante la gracia. A esa unión renovada nos invita, especialmente en este mes de mayo, la Virgen Santísima, hija fiel del Padre y Madre común de cuantos creemos en Cristo.

Amados irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa, peregrinos do Ano Santo, Que a paz de Cristo, que nos reconciliou com Deus, mediante o Sacrifício da Cruz, esteja sempre convosco. Sob a olhar de Nossa Senhora, neste mês de Maio, sede bem-vindos a este encontro do Ano Santo, cujo pensamento central é a reconciliação com Deus e com os homens nossos irmãos, como fruto e apelo da Redenção. Na Sagrada Escritura, a conhecida narração da torre de Babel e, tomada no seu conjunto, a experiência pessoal de São Paulo ensinam: o rebelar-se contra Deus, pelo pecado, comporta também dividir-se dos outros homens; por sua vez a reconciliação do pecador com Deus suscita nele o impulso a reconciliar-se também com os irmãos.

Mas a reconciliação operada por Cristo em nosso favor, que temos de fazer nossa, visa uma unidade profunda: a unidade de família dos filhos de Deus. Esta será obra do Espírito Santo, que é o Amor pessoal do Pai e do Filho, a transformar os corações que colaboram, abrindo as portas a Cristo; e, reconciliados, oram e oferecem sacrifícios pela vida do mundo, tão precisado de reconciliação e de paz. Desejando a todos que, sempre reconciliados, sejais obreiros de reconciliação, dou-vos a Bênção Apostólica.

Umiłowani Rodacy! Oto jest w życiu Kościoła czas wielkiej modlitwy - jakby wielkiej nowenny. Chrystus odchodząc z tego świata przez Wniebowstąpienie, polecił swym Uczniom, aby trwali na modlitwie, oczekując zesłania Ducha-Pocieszyciela, Ducha Prawdy. Spełniając polecenie swego Mistrza i Pana, Apostołowie trwali na modlitwie wraz z Maryią, Matką Jezusa. Miejscem modlitwy był wieczernik - ten sam, w którym ustanowiona została Eucharystia - ten sam, w którym Chrystus Zmartwychwstały spotykał się z Apostołami, dając in władzę odpuszczania grzechów. W ciągu tych dni - pomiędzy Wniebowstąpieniem Pańskim a Pięćdziesiątnicą Zielonych Świąt - Kościół cały staje się w szczególny sposób wieczernikiem.

Drodzy Rodacy! Na ziemi ojczystej trwacie zjednoczeni w modlitwie z naszą Matką Jasnogórską. Wokół Niej wszyscy stanowimy w tych dniach jak gdyby nasz rodzinny polski wieczernik. “Niech zstąpi Duch Twój - i odnowi ziemię”: cała ziemię - i tę naszą polską ziemię. Modlimy się o dary Ducha Świętego, które przemieniają serce ludzkie, zwłaszcza o dar męstwa i rady. Tylko wtedy bowiem może być odnowiona ziemia, kiedy zostaną przemienione Duchem Świętym serca żywych ludzi.

Rivolgo un affettuoso saluto a voi, giovani, che siete presenti a questa Udienza. Saluto in particolare gli Studenti delle varie scuole ed i gruppi di bambini che hanno fatto la Prima Comunione o ricevuto la Cresima. Carissimi giovani, vi auguro con tutto il cuore che questo Anno Giubilare della Redenzione vi sia di sprone per vivere con entusiasmo ed impegno il messaggio cristiano.

Un saluto cordiale anche a tutti voi, ammalati, che il Cristo ha voluto associare in maniera particolare alla sua Passione dolorosa. Saluto in particolare i Volontari della Sofferenza di Arco, i bambini del Centro socio-Sanitario della Croce Rossa Italiana di Torre Spaccata, i malati dell’Opera di “Santa Maria della Pietà” di Ceccano, il pellegrinaggio dell’UNITALSI di Arezzo. Vi esorto, carissimi ammalati, ad offrire a Dio la vostra sofferenza per il bene della Chiesa e dell’Umanità intera. Né posso non ricordare voi, sposi novelli, che in questo anno privilegiato avete consacrato nel sacramento del Matrimonio il vostro vicendevole amore. Sia sempre la vostra nascente famiglia cristiana una comunità di fede profonda, di speranza serena e di fervida carità verso Dio e i fratelli.

Affido questi miei voti alla Vergine Santissima e li accompagno con la Benedizione Apostolica."