Thursday, January 03, 2013

Pope: Peace is a Messianic gift and human work

"Peace is a messianic gift and human at the same time work... It is peace with God through a life lived according to his will.  It is interior peace with oneself, and exterior peace with our neighbours and all creation. "

These the words of Benedict XVI 's Message for the 46th World Day of Peace and the focus of the homily delivered today at the Mass celebrated in St. Peter's on the Feast of Mary, Mother of God.  

In the presence of many cardinals and bishops and the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, the Pope reflected on the title of the Message for the World Day of Peace this year, "Blessed are the peacemakers." 

With it, the pope said that "man is made for the peace that is a gift from God." 

He explains: " Although the world is sadly marked by "hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism," as well as by various forms of terrorism and crime, I am convinced that "the many different efforts at peacemaking which abound in our world testify to mankind's innate vocation to peace.  In every person the desire for peace is an essential aspiration which coincides in a certain way with the desire for a full, happy and successful human life."
To understand "the foundation, the source, the root of this peace ... despite the problems, darkness, anguish," we must "contemplate the inner peace of Mary, the Mother of Jesus", as described in the Today's Gospel (Luke 2, 16-21). " During the days in which "she gave birth to her first-born son" - continues the pope -  many unexpected things occurred: not only the birth of the Son but, even before, the tiring journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, not finding room at the inn, the search for a chance place to stay for the night; then the song of the angels and the unexpected visit of the shepherds.  In all this, however, Mary remains even tempered, she does not get agitated, she is not overcome by events greater than herself; in silence she considers what happens, keeping it in her mind and heart, and pondering it calmly and serenely.   This is the interior peace which we ought to have amid the sometimes tumultuous and confusing events of history, events whose meaning we often do not grasp and which disconcert us.
The Gospel passage finishes with a mention of the circumcision of Jesus.  According to the Law of Moses, eight days after birth, baby boys were to be circumcised and then given their name.  Through his messenger, God himself had said to Mary - as well as to Joseph - that the Name to be given to the child was "Jesus" (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31); and so it came to be.  The Name which God had already chosen, even before the child had been conceived, is now officially conferred upon him at the moment of circumcision.  This also changes Mary's identity once and for all: she becomes "the mother of Jesus", that is the mother of the Saviour, of Christ, of the Lord.  Jesus is not a man like any other, but the Word of God, one of the Divine Persons, the Son of God: therefore the Church has given Mary the title Theotokos or Mother of God".


Referring to the first reading of the Mass (Book of Numbers, from 6.22 to 27), the Pope reaffirms that "peace is a gift from God and is linked to the splendour of the face of God, according to the text from the Book of Numbers, which hands down the blessing used by the priests of the People of Israel in their liturgical assemblies.  This blessing repeats three times the Holy Name of God, a Name not to be spoken, and each time it is linked to two words indicating an action in favour of man: "The Lord bless you and keep you: the Lord make his face to shine upon you: the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace" (6:24-26).  So peace is the summit of these six actions of God in our favour, in which he turns towards us the splendour of his face. For sacred Scripture, contemplating the face of God is the greatest happiness: "You gladden him with the joy of your face" (Ps 21:7).  From the contemplation of the face of God are born joy, security and peace". 

"To contemplate the face of the Lord - he continues - means knowing him directly, in so far as is possible in this life, through Jesus Christ in whom he is revealed.  To rejoice in the splendour of God's face means penetrating the mystery of his Name made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of his interior life and of his will, so that we can live according to his plan of love for humanity. "

"Here, dear brothers and sisters, is the foundation of our peace: the certainty of contemplating in Jesus Christ the splendour of the face of God the Father, of being sons in the Son, and thus of having, on life's journey, the same security that a child feels in the arms of a loving and all-powerful Father.  The splendour of the face of God, shining upon us and granting us peace, is the manifestation of his fatherhood: the Lord turns his face to us, he reveals himself as our Father and grants us peace.  Here is the principle of that profound peace - "peace with God" - which is firmly linked to faith and grace, as Saint Paul tells the Christians of Rome (cf. Rom 5:2).  Nothing can take this peace from believers, not even the difficulties and sufferings of life.  Indeed, sufferings, trials and darkness do not undermine but build up our hope, a hope which does not deceive because "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (5:5)".

"May the Virgin Mary - he concluded - whom today we venerate with the title of Mother of God, help us to contemplate the face of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  May she sustain us and accompany us in this New Year: and may she obtain for us and for the whole world the gift of peace.  Amen!".

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