ROME – In the immaculate conception of Mary, Christians recognize the truth that the Gospel is the good news of freedom from sin, selfishness and death, Pope Benedict said.
Standing before a statue of Mary near the Spanish Steps, Pope Benedict said Mary is a reminder that silence is essential for hearing God's word, that salvation comes from God alone and that joy comes from being freed of sin.
That Mary was conceived without sin "speaks to us of joy, that authentic joy that spreads in a heart freed from sin," the pope said. "Sin brings with it sadness."
While some think Christianity "is an obstacle to joy because they see it as a collection of prohibitions and rules," it really is good news, the pope said.
Christianity is "the proclamation of the victory of grace over sin, of life over death."
The day's Gospel reading recounted the Annunciation, the moment when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would be Jesus' mother.
Pope Benedict said he was struck that such a "decisive moment for human destiny, the moment in which God became man, is wrapped in great silence."
Today, such a silent event would not be reported in the media, he said.
"The quiet silence is shown to be more fruitful than the frenetic agitation that characterizes our cities," he said.