(Vatican Radio) “How meaningful it is to be gathered together to give praise to the Lord at the end of the year!”
Those were the words of Pope Francis as he celebrated First Vespers for the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God in St Peter’s Basilica on Thursday evening.
The liturgy at the conclusion of the civil year included the singing of the Te Deum, the Church’s solemn hymn of praise and thanksgiving.
“The Church on so many occasions feels the joy and the duty of lifting up her song to God with these words of praise,” the Pope said in his homily. In particular, the final words of the hymn – “Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee” – have a special resonance during this Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The Te Deum, he continued, also helps us see the works of God in history and in our own lives, and gives us hope for the new year that lies before us.
Today, Pope Francis said, “our eyes need to focus on the particular signs God has given us, to see His merciful love first-hand.” The Holy Father recalled scenes of violence and death that marked the previous year, the untold suffering of many innocent people, the plight of refugees forced to leave their homes, of the homeless, and the hungry. But he also noted the many acts of kindness, love, and solidarity that often go unnoticed, but which should not be obscured by “the arrogance of evil.” “The good always wins,” the Pope said, “even if at times it can appear weak and hidden.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily with a few words for the people of the local church of Rome, inviting Romans to “go beyond the difficulties of the present moment,” and never miss the opportunity to be “privileged interpreters of faith, welcome, fraternity, and peace.”