ROME — The Church needs the service of the many women who continue to follow Mary’s example of courage and service despite the odds, Pope Francis said on Tuesday.
Women who serve with joy to bring their families forward in life, to ensure their children’s education and who “face so many adversities and who heal the sick” are courageous, the pope said May 31 during the Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence on Vatican ground where he lives.
Commemorating the feast of the Visitation, when the pregnant Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, the pope said the memorial is a “breath of fresh air” that highlights the importance of joy in Christian life.
Christians who are sad, he said, can seem “ugly” and although “they think they are Christian, they are not fully.” Joy is the Christian message “which today’s liturgy gives us as a gift.”
The pope noted Mary’s courageous service in visiting her cousin Elizabeth despite being pregnant herself and who “gets up and goes without excuses.”
“Service is a Christian sign. Those who do not live to serve,” serve very little purpose in life. “To serve with joy: this is the attitude that I would like to underline today. There is joy and also service; always (willing) to serve,” he said.
Another Christian sign, Pope Francis said, is the willingness to meet with others. Both serving and encountering others like Mary, he added, require Christians to come out of themselves.
“With this service of Mary, with this encounter, the Lord’s promise is renewed; it takes place in the present. And the Lord — as we heard in the first reading: ‘The Lord your God is in your midst’ — the Lord is in service, the Lord is in the encounter,” the pope said.