Extracts from a homily given by Pope Benedict XVI in St Peter's Basilica on the Feast of the Annunciation, 25 March.
In the Incarnation of the Son of God, we recognise the origins of the Church. Everything began from there. Every historical realisation of the Church and every one of her institutions must be shaped by that primordial wellspring.
They must be shaped by Christ, the incarnate Word of God. It is He that we are constantly celebrating:Emmanuel, God-with-us, through whom the saving will of God the Father has been accomplished.
And yet the divine wellspring flows through a privileged channel: the Virgin Mary.
In celebrating the Incarnation of the Son, therefore, we cannot fail to honour His Mother. The Angel's proclamation was addressed to her; she accepted it, and when she responded from the depths of her heart:'Here I am ... let it be done to me according to your word' (Lk 1:38), at that moment the eternal Word began to exist as a human being in time.
From generation to generation, the wonder evoked by this ineffable mystery never ceases.
The icon of the Annunciation, more than any other, helps us to see clearly how everything in the Church goes back to that mystery of Mary's acceptance of the divine Word, by which, through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Covenant between God and humanity was perfectly sealed.
Everything in the Church, every institution and ministry, including that of Peter and his successors, is 'included' under the Virgin's mantle, within the grace-filled horizon of her 'yes' to God's will.
Every Ecclesial Community, like the Mother of Christ, is called to accept with total generosity the mystery of God who comes to dwell within her and guides her steps in the ways of love. This is the path along which I chose to launch mypontificate,inviting everyone, with my first Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, to build up the Church in charity as a 'community of love'.